“We are not at the beginning of the end. We are probably at the end of the beginning,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday in parliament, during a plenary debate on the measures to address the novel coronavirus crisis.
He also stressed the importance of not allowing the healthcare system to become overwhelmed.
The prime minister said that “April may prove decisive for the future” and spoke of the first “cautiously hopeful results” but also stressed that “what is coming requires firm dedication to the goal, discipline, unity and solidarity.”
At the same time, the prime minister stated his rejection of all extreme authoritarian measures, such as those imposed in Hungary: “I am here to serve a political project…Our way is non-negotiable and is always the way of truth and parliamentary democracy,” he said.
The prime minister gave a brief run-down of the measures, noting that they were taken “very early,” in conjunction with an information campaign and the simultaneous planning of the first measures to support individuals and businesses. He also pointed out that the timing was not “neutral”, since a second battle was underway in Evros to defend the Greek and European borders.
“Ι was the first to say that we may face a common danger but that, in defending against it, everyone is called upon to contribute according to their ability,” the prime minister stressed.
Mitsotakis rebuffed criticism of the government, saying that the private sector has financed the operation of over 500 ICU beds and has provided over 900 ventilators, as well as donating personal protection equipment for free, including millions of masks that have arrived in Greece, hundreds of thousands of gloves, special uniforms and tons of the medicines that doctors need.
At this point, Mitsotakis congratulated all the organisations and foundations involved for their initiative and stressed that it would be good if other companies follow suit.
“I would also like to mention parliament’s significant donation to the Sotiria hospital ICU,” he added.
The government’s first priority is to take care of the Greeks, who must remain healthy in order to rebuild what the pandemic has destroyed, Mitsotakis stated, adding that companies must be able to restart growth. “This is why we have planned four packages of economic support amounting to 10 billion euros in 30 days,” he said.
“Our main concern remains to preserve jobs but also fair and horizontal social care,” Mitsotakis stressed in his speech.
He referred to the horizontal payment of an 800-euro benefit, which was extended to almost all employees, while particuarly mentioning those on low pay.
The prime minister also pointed out that layoffs have been forbidden, with suspended workers initially receiving an allowance of 800 euros while retaining all their insurance rights, while this also applies to all freelance professionals and the self-employed. Unemployment benefits have been extended, he added, and those who have a problem will receive a 40 pct discount on their rent, while most civil servants are able to work remotely and all workers with children up to 15 can get special leave.