The coronavirus epidemic is subsiding, but the war is not won yet, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised message this evening, thanking the Greek people for their trust and discipline and calling on them to continue to respect restrictive measures.
The PM warned that loss of life would have been much greater if the government had adopted any other policy and that he will continue to fiollow the advice of medical and other specialists so as to ensure a gradual return to normalcy.
«Above all, we will continue for a long time to protect older people and all those suffering from serious and chronic illnesses,» he said.
Assistance for unemployed, including long-term cases
Mitsotakis said that from the very start the government took measures to support incomes and has earmarked over 14 billion euros to support workers and businesses.
The government is expecting 10 billion euros in liquidity from European funding.
«Already, 750,000 workers are collecting the 800-euro stipend. Nearly 200,000 unemployed people were given an extension of their benefits. For more than 500,000 businesses, all tax and insurance obligations have been suspended, while 85,000 scientists have signed up for subsidised online training.
He also announced that 155,000 long-term unemployed people will receive an emergency 400-euro stipend.
Deep recession this year, rebound projected for 2021
Mitsotakis said that the economy will be in recession at least this year due to the pandemic but he projected rather optimistically a strong comeback in 2021.
«The recession will be great, but the recovery could be much greater in 2021.»
He said the governmentr is intent upon ensuring that he burden of the crisis be distributed fairly»so that everyone shares in the blast of growth that will follow.»
In addition, he spoke of a National Health System transformation under emergency pandemic conditions.
«In just five weeks, things were accomplished that had not been done in decades,» he said, and reiterated his goal of increasing the number of ICU beds hospitals to gradually converge wiuth the EU average.
He underlined that this is necessary in order to be prepared for a prospect of a recurrence of the epidemic next winter and he underlined the role of online medical prescriptions.
A new, post-epidemic mentality, national transformation
Mitsotakis suggested that Greeks will have greater social cohesion and will appreciate each other more after the epidemic, especially the people at the front lines of the disease, he said.
«This will be the face of a future Greece, of wellbeing and solidarity.»
Mitsotakis said that the pandemic had contributed to dismantling decades-old myths and proved that the state should be evaluated on the basis of its effectiveness in order to uproot partisan control of the civil service.
He said critical institutions such as parliament are still working despite restrictions and that Greece must work toward a major revival after the pandemic.
«The crisis may hurt us but it will have armed us also with valuable experiences in order to buld a stronger and more modern state,» Mitsotakis.
He strongly urged citizens to continue abide by restrictions of movementr and social distancing in order to think strategically of the future.
Marshaling Holy Week and Easter as a timely metaphor, the PM declared that persistence and courage will lead the country to a resurrection.
Emergency aid for long-term unemployed
Nearly 150,000 long-term unemployed people will receive 400 euros in emergency aid.
The government will also invest in training programs for the unemployed.
That includes 12-month contract positions for 8,500 people aged 55-67, an eight-month community service program in cities and prefectures for 36,500 unemployed.
New programmes slated for May will cover an additional 100,000 unemployed people.
There will also be a two-month extensions of unemployment benefits for people whose benefits ended between January and April.