March 16, 2020 / 12:41 PM / 13 days ago

Greece to shut shops, quarantine all arrivals from abroad

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past the parliament building, as the Greek government implemented strict precautionary measures against spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece announced on Monday it will shut all shops apart from supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, petrol stations and food delivery services, and put anyone arriving from abroad into quarantine for two weeks, to fight the coronavirus. Retail stores will begin closing from Wednesday.

Greece had already cancelled mass gatherings and closed bars, restaurants, playgrounds and gyms. So far Greece has reported 352 confirmed cases of infections and four fatalities, a rise of 21 people in 24 hours. Health authorities expect the number of infections to rise.

As an added measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus, church services will be suspended, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Twitter late on Monday. Churches will remain open only for individual prayers.

“Protecting public health requires clear decisions. Church service of any creed and religion will be suspended,” he said.

The 14 day quarantine would apply to anyone entering Greece, regardless of nationality, government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters. Athens has also banned passenger ships from Italy and barred cruise ships from docking at Greek ports.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Peter Graff and Grant McCool

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