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Travel to Crete and between prefectures allowed as of May 18

Featured Travel to Crete and between prefectures allowed as of May 18

Travel between prefectures and to Crete will be allowed as of May 18, Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said on Tuesday, adding that travel to islands is under consideration.

At the thrice-weekly live meeting on the coronavirus developments in Greece, Hardalias said the government's intention is to allow travel to the islands on May 25, but this decision will be not confirmed until the middle of next week. Until now, only permanent residents of Crete and the islands were allowed to travel to them, with proof of residence documentation.

Island travel

The decision to allow travel between prefectures and to the island of Crete, he said, relates to their infrastructure preparedness in the event a person becomes ill with Covid-19.
Hardalias also mentioned that movement from and to reception and identification centers and other facilities will be extended to May 21.
Speaking of the churches whose services will be open to the public as of May 17, he said that restrictions called for 1 person per 10 sqm and a 1.5-meters distance in all directions. This will also need to be observed at baptisms, weddings and funerals. The maximum number of attendees cannot exceed 50, whatever the size of the church, he said, while all must observe health precautions.
Hardalias commented that on Monday, when the second phase of lifting restrictions began, schools and businesses went back into operation smoothly. The only problems occurred at the Public Power Corporation local outlets, where people crowded to pay their bills, but these were dealt with immediately and effectively, he said.

Nurses, firefighters
The minister also made special mention of nursing staff, on International Nurses Day (May 12), thanking them for their contribution especially during the pandemic. He also said this day is the 90th anniversary of founding of the Greek Fire Brigade as an independent body, and said its assistance has been decisive in helping track coronavirus infections in Greece and in ensuring that people returning from abroad observe quarantine.

Relaxing measures, not vigilance

The Health Ministry's coronavirus spokesman and infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras reminded reporters that the pandemic's alarm bell has not yet been silenced, and that citizens should still be on the alert for observing acute social distancing, speaking at the thrice-weekly televised update on Tuesday evening.  
He cited World Health Organization's latest data showing that several countries recorded a spike in infections after relaxing restriction measures, and repeated that the two key ways of fighting the pandemic are practices of hygiene and social distancing, as "the virus will continue to live among us" for some time to come. 

Mass transit
 Choosing an alternative means of transportation to public buses and trains is preferable, he stressed, and also reiterated the need for the correct use of face masks, as partial covering of the face does not offer sufficient protection. Face masks should be worn full-face and not rest underneath one's chin or cover only one's mouth, he added.  
With less restrictive measures and warmer weather leading people out of doors, Tsiodras said the opportunities to become infected increased in a crowd outdoors, even if that crowd means fellow swimmers on a beach. He did say that it's understandable people wanting to go to the beach, but stressed that it is of the utmost importance that groups of families and friends keep a good distance from the nearest such group. 
"When we get to the point when tourism is again allowed," he said, three rules should be observed: ensuring travelers are not live carriers of the virus, that everyone wears face masks, and that vulnerable groups remain protected.