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Greece shuts restaurants, bars and museums to curb virus surge

FILE PHOTO: A waiter wearing a protective face mask cleans a table at a coffee shop, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece expanded a night curfew on movement and shut restaurants, bars, theatres and museums in the most populous areas of the country for one month on Tuesday to fight a resurgence in COVID-19 amid a new peak in infections.

The country has reported fewer cases than most in Europe after going into an early lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, but has seen a gradual increase in infections since early October.

Greece recorded 2,166 new cases on Tuesday, its highest daily tally since the first outbreak in February, and also reported 13 deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 655.

Many Greeks fear the new rules will hurt economic activity in a country that recently emerged from a decade-long debt crisis.

“We are talking about a catastrophe. A lot of the businesses that will close won’t open again. We are talking about people unemployed, huges losses to revenue, to GDP,” tavern employee Antonis Kalamaras told Reuters.

In the northern area of Thessaloniki, authorities imposed more stringent measures, including a suspension of flights to and from the regional airport.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas urged people to respect the latest restrictions and prevent a full nationwide lockdown.

“If we implement the measures we will be able to be more optimistic in December,” Petsas told Skai TV.

Reporting by Deborah Kyvrikosaios and Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Giles Elgood and Gareth Jones

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