Ban on public gatherings was approved by parliament vote, says gov’t spokesman Petsas

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The ban on public gatherings for public health safety concerns was approved by majority vote in parliament earlier this year and is not unconstitutional, said government spokesperson Stelios Petsas on Monday.

Opposition parties fiercely criticized as unconstitutional a government order against all large gatherings between Nov. 15 and 18, which includes the annual rally commemorating the student uprising against the junta on Nov. 17, 1973.

Responding during a Q & A session after his daily briefing, Petsas noted that political parties did not raise concerns of unconstitutionality when they discussed the relevant legislation in parliament. “It is therefore not an unconstitutional action, but a necessary action to protect public health,” he stressed.

Parties’ reactions

Representatives of Greek opposition parties met with political leaders on Monday to protest a four-day order banning gathering of over four people.

The ban, effective November 15 to 18, comes ahead of commemorations for November 17, the anniversary of the Polytechnic student uprising against the junta in 1973, and an annual march to the US embassy.

Members of main opposition Syriza, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and MeRA25 paid visits to Parliament President Constantine Tassoulas, State Minister George Gerapetritis at Maximos Mansion and Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

Syriza MP Olga Gerovassili said that the coronavirus pandemic “should not become an excuse for authoritarian methods, suspending an article of the constitution by decision of the chief of police.” She said that although her party would not participate in a national rally, it would hold an event at the historic premises of Eleftherias Park with 50 people, “keeping of course all health measures.”

KKE’s Thanassis Pafilis said his party observed the health measures, but the government itself didn’t do so on mass transport and work places.

MeRA25 MP and Parliament Vice President Sofia Sakorafa warned that the government should “be very careful not to divide society with such decisions.”

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