By Magda Panoutsopoulou
ATHENS (AA) – Greek retail stores, hair salons, health centers, and car inspection stations re-opened to the public on Monday after being shut down since November 2020.
“As of this morning, another important step is being taken for the re-opening of economic and social activities that had been suspended for a time, in order to stop the spread of coronavirus," government spokesperson Christos Tarantilis said during a press briefing.
All other restrictions remain in place, while in areas where the infection rate is still high, the services will only operate with the click-away system, which allows online orders to be picked up at the store only by appointment.
Officials said a total of 140,000 employees will return to work.
The re-opening, announced last week by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was welcomed by retail shop owners saying that return to operation without an appointment system and in combination with winter sales will give a boost to the market.
Measures will continue within shops with retailers, hairdressers, and beauty salons, allowing up to four customers per 100 square meters (1,076 square feet). Stores over 100 square meters are allowed one customer per 25 square meters (269 square feet) — a change from the previous 1 person/15 square meters (161 square feet).
Same rule applies to malls and discount villages, while all social distancing measures and facial mask use are still in place.
Only hair salons, barbers, and health centers will operate with appointments.
Coffee shops and restaurants will remain closed but may still provide take away or delivery services.
An SMS will be valid for two hours since issued, and a consumer must complete his or her purchases within that time frame, while travelling to other prefectures is still prohibited.
Regarding the progress of the pandemic in Greece, Tarantilis said: “It is obvious that the gradual opening of economic and social activities is possible after a long period of restrictive measures, which showed that the pandemic increases with lightning speed, while de-escalation requires a lot of time and sacrifices.
According to the maps of the ECDC (European Center for Prevention and Control) — Greece has much better indicators in terms of the pandemic than other European countries, the spokesperson said.
On Sunday, Greece recorded 237 new coronavirus infections, with 13 identified at entry points to the country, according to health authorities.
Total recorded cases in the country since the pandemic appeared in Greece reached 148,607.
Another 28 deaths due to COVID-19 were registered, bringing the standing total in the country to 5,469.