COVID-19 Protests Halt Public Transport In Athens

Demonstrators walks in the street of Athens during a general strike to protest draft labour law on November 26, 2020. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)

Athens city buses, metro lines and trams ground to a halt Thursday with public workers pressing for better protection against coronavirus as Greece extended Covid-19 restrictions until December 7.

Shipping also closed for a day in the coastal nation, disrupting maritime trade as well as transport linking its numerous islands.

A second wave is raging through Greece, with daily infections now between 2,500 and 3,000 compared with 667 on October 20. The death toll has just crossed 1,900 and more than 500 people are in intensive care.

Scores of motorcyclists briefly demonstrated outside the labour ministry in Athens shouting slogans such as “Riot police everywhere, intensive care units nowhere”.

Medical workers also called for a rally outside the health ministry to demand Christmas bonuses and better health protection, including increased testing for those on the frontline.

Some 200 far-left activists defied pandemic curbs to rally in central Athens before being dispersed by police, deployed in full force in the capital to prevent lockdown breaches.

Greece also extended virus curbs initially set to end this month to December 7.

People must get official permission by SMS to leave their homes and all businesses are closed apart from shops selling essential items as well as pharmacies and supermarkets.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Thursday that the restrictions had to be prolonged in view of the continued high rate of infections.

“There are the first signs of a reduction,” he said, adding: “If this continues, the pressure on the health system will decline and we can envisage a return to a certain normalcy.”

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