"Our country has already started its course to a new normality. After the gradual opening of retail, restaurants, cafes and bars, and schools, we are now in the next phase," government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said on Monday during a press briefing.
"We are already going through the first days after the opening of tourism and museums, the travelling from region to region, the abolition of the obligation to send SMS messages and the extension of the hours of circulation," she pointed out.
She added that specific rules were being applied for the protection of public health at all times, while "defence zones" have been created for the opening of tourism.
"The common goal now is to prove that the steps we are taking are solid. So that the next steps can follow, safely and without any setbacks. We are at the beginning of the end and not at the end of the effort. We are not done with the pandemic. We do not forget that the virus still lurks and remains among us. And that is why - as the experts insistently advise - we must all observe the personal protection measures: wear a mask, keep safe distances, avoid crowding."
She also noted a need to fully inform those who are hesitant about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. "It should become a shared conviction that [vaccines are] the shield for our protection and for regaining our freedom. That, with this weapon, we will defeat the virus. And no one should be deprived of this weapon. We owe it both to ourselves and to those around us," she said.
"About 4.3 million vaccine shots have been given, more than 1.55 million of our fellow citizens have completed their vaccinations and we are continuing at an ever-accelerating pace," she underlined.
Referring to the economy and its prospects, the government spokesperson said that it was "extremely important - as the European Commission has already pointed ...that our country has managed to mitigate the recession and support employment. About 24 billion euros were allocated for this purpose in 2020 and an additional 15.5 billion are available this year. Of this, about 3 billion will be given to support businesses and households in the immediate future."