Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Greece are now in excess of 1,100, the number of intubated patients is constantly increasing, and the National Health System is at risk of collapsing.

The second wave of the pandemic has reached its peak and it depends on the behaviour of us all whether it will continue to rage in the coming weeks or whether it will be stemmed.

The emergency conditions once again mandated restriction of our rights including freedom of assembly.

Just as the religious ceremonies celebrating the October 26 feastday of Saint Demetrios in Thessaloniki should not have taken place and just as the 28 October parades for OXI Day, when Greece refused to surrender to fascist Italian forces, were banned, so too marches commemorating the 17 November, 1973, Athens Polytechnic student uprising against the colonels’ dictatorship  (Photo: 2019 commemoration) should not take place.

It is a matter of public health, which transcends even the issue of public security.

Perhaps the government could have handled the matter earlier and in a different manner.

Undoubtedly reaching an understanding and democratic procedures should always be preferred to autocratic methods and bans.

That, however, in no way justified the opposition’s comparing the government with a junta, especially when the government is following the recommendations of the National Committee on Public Health.

Such characterisations are outrageously exaggerated, off the mark, and unworthy under the current circumstances.

Saving lives is the top priority right now.

The insistence of certain political forces that commemorative gatherings and marches should take place these days clearly does not contribute to achieving that crucial objective.