After another weekend of party crowds gathering on public squares in many parts of the country – a phenomenon spurred by bars selling takeaway drinks and cocktails – the food and drinks services sector was officially relaunched on Monday.
Greece’s bars, restaurants and cafes – which have been on lockdown for 10 weeks, relying on government handouts to pay staff – have been permitted to welcome customers as part of the fourth phase of a government plan to ease restrictions imposed in March to stem coronavirus infections.
The relaunch of the sector, however, is subject to health protocols designed to prevent customers from being seated in close proximity and to ensure that all hygiene standards are being met.
Physical distancing means that businesses are not allowed to admit more than one person per square meter of their surface area and must maintain a distance of at least 70 centimeters between customers’ chairs.
They should also encourage touch-free payment methods, provide hand sanitation stations with antiseptic gels, train staff on the proper use of gloves and masks, and impose a strict cleaning regimen so that frequently touched surfaces are regularly wiped down with a disinfectant.
Since restrictions on the public’s movements were lifted on May 4, large crowds have been gathering on the weekends at public squares, despite the advice of the country’s health authorities urging social distancing.
The phenomenon has been most severe in popular nightlife spots in Athens, such as downtown Psyrri and Varnava Square in the neighborhood Mets, but also in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, where a scuffle broke out on Friday night when a motorist tried to squeeze through a party crowd on Karolou Dill Street.