Greece orders night curfew for worst-hit COVID-19 areas


People wearing protective face masks make their way in Monastiraki square, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, October 22, 2020. REUTERS/Louiza Vradi

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will impose a night curfew in areas most affected by COVID-19, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, announcing restrictions on movement in several areas of the country including Athens.

Earlier, authorities announced 882 new cases of coronavirus, a new peak, after 865 were reported on Wednesday.

Mitsotakis said movement would be banned from 12.30 a.m. to 5 a.m. in locations deemed high-risk and where elevated surveillance was necessary, based on a four-tier risk assessment by authorities. The measure would be in force from Saturday.

Two regions in northern Greece, Kozani and Kastoria, are at the highest risk and regional lockdowns have already been announced, followed by other provinces of elevated surveillance in northern Greece and the region of Attica, where Athens is located.

Greece has recorded significantly lower numbers of COVID-19 than other countries in Europe, though cases started to rise in early October. Testing has also increased.

"The objective is to restrict movement and night-time gatherings which are conducive to the spread of the virus. Perhaps it's less fun for a while, but it would mean more health in the longer term," Mitsotakis said.

Young people had a responsibility to help curb the spread, Mitsotakis said, adding that the state would be relentless in prosecuting businesses breaking the rules. "Now is not the time for secret parties, when this virus is having a party at the expense of our lives."

"The data is clear, the spread of the virus is particularly among young people, and at the times and locations where they gather. But from there on it spreads into family units, affecting older people disproportionately."

Fifteen more deaths were registered on Thursday, authorities said, bringing the total to 549, many of them elderly. More than 90% of those who died had underlying health issues.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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