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Petsas said the restrictions would expire at 6am on 7 January.
The nationwide lockdown already includes a 9pm to 5am curfew. He said new measures would apply to schools, courts, restaurants, gyms and ski resorts, and that travel between different districts in Greece would be prohibited.
Depending on epidemiological data, it remained to be seen whether retail stores, hairdressers and churches would reopen in the coming weeks, he said. Arrivals from abroad will be subject to rapid coronavirus tests and will have to quarantine for 10 days.
The end date in the new year will effectively mark two months of the country being under lockdown. Although infection rates have begun to stabilise, they remain frustratingly high: the public health organisation EODY reported 904 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 115,471.
Petsas noted that despite the restrictions, movement of people was up by 20% compared with the first lockdown. Athens’ health minister, Vassillis Kikilias, had previously said the economy would reopen once daily case numbers fell to 500 a day.
The World Health Organization is holding discussions on Monday about the feasibility of trials in which healthy young volunteers are deliberately infected with coronavirus to hasten vaccine development – amid questions over whether they should go ahead given the promising data from the frontrunner vaccine candidates.
Some scientists have reservations about exposing volunteers to a virus for which there is no cure, although there are treatments that can help patients. However, proponents argue that the risks of Covid-19 to the young and healthy are minimal, and the benefits to society are high:
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