Coronavirus: Greeks ponder ban on fax machines in state offices

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The coronavirus has forced Greece to digitise the state and rapidly move public services online.

BBC | Europe

Coronavirus: Greeks ponder ban on fax machines in state offices

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a face maskImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's government has rapidly moved services online

Fax machines could be banned in government offices as part of new digital reforms proposed in Greece.

Minister of State and Digital Governance Kyriakos Pierrakakis wants to make all departments collect and issue documents electronically.

Coronavirus lockdown measures have forced many Greeks to use online services for the first time.

In recent weeks Greece has launched gov.gr for citizens to access state services without leaving their homes.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament the website was "the portal of the new, digital state". Everything from prescriptions to residence certificates can now be processed online.

The new digital bill goes further. It would create a National Register of Citizen Communications and oblige departments to communicate with citizens electronically.

Each Greek person will also receive a unique digital identification number so they can access state services without having to leave their homes or use printed documents.

Supporters say it will increase government transparency and cut down on bureaucracy.

The 2019 EU Digital Economy and Society Index placed Greece 26th out of the then 28 member states, based on measures like connectivity, digital public services and integration of digital technology.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Fax machines could finally be a thing of the past in Greece

According to Johns Hopkins University, Greece has recorded 2,566 confirmed cases of the virus and has a reported death toll of 138.

The government enforced a lockdown and strict social distancing guidelines at the start of March.

On Tuesday, Mr Mitsotakis announced plans to slowly ease the measures from 4 May, including opening hair salons and book shops. Schools will slowly start to open their doors from 11 May.

However, there are growing concerns about migrant camps on the mainland and on Greek islands off the coast of Turkey.

Last week Human Rights Watch said Greek authorities had "not done enough" to limit the spread of the virus in these camps.

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Media captionThe coronavirus crisis has deepened the struggle facing migrants in Calais and the UK

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