Sunday opening pilot scheme extended to Myconos, Santorini

By Dimitra Manifava

The government has decided to extend the pilot scheme concerning year-round Sunday opening for retail stores to 10 areas around the country, prompting the resignation of the head of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), Vassilis Korkidis, from the commerce department of the larger of the two coalition parties, New Democracy on Monday.

The measure is expected to be published in the Government Gazette today and will include two additional regions to what the government had agreed with its creditors. The measure will have an immediate effect and its efficiency will be revised in March 2015.

The decision was made despite new Deputy Development Minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos’s statements that he did not agree with the application of the scheme.

Korkidis, who vehemently opposed the extension of Sunday opening to 52 times per year, insisted that he reflected the common view of the Athens and Thessaloniki traders’ associations. Arguing that many people within New Democracy are keeping their own objections quiet, he said, “I cannot keep quiet about it though.” He objected to the government debating the issue with the tradesmen at a time when it had already made its decisions.

In Attica the measure will apply to the city center, stretching from Omonia to Koukaki and from Petralona to Kolonaki. It will also apply to the Municipality of Rafina and Pikermi, which includes the ferry port of Rafina.

In Thessaloniki, year-round Sunday opening will apply to the city’s historic center, with the nearby regional entity of Halkidiki also enforcing the pilot program. The original plan only foresaw the Aegean islands of Rhodes, Kos and Syros taking part in the pilot program, but it has now been expanded to include the popular tourism destinations of Myconos and Santorini. Apparently it was the new political leadership of the Development Ministry which decided to add Myconos and Santorini.

The Central Union of Greek Chambers (KEEE) will be responsible for monitoring the pilot measure. KEEE is led by Constantinos Michalos, seen to be another reason for Korkidis’s resignation.