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Store visit limit in the works

Gov’t considering new system for shopping with text messages to another number from March 8

store-visit-limit-in-the-works

Retail commerce in Attica appears poised to reopen with a three-hour limit per shopping trip, probably starting the week after next. While the government and the market want this to happen from next Monday, recent coronavirus figures point to March 8.

Either way, the plan is for a full reopening of commercial enterprises, with the implementation of general measures such as the compulsory use of masks and the admission of one customer per 25 square meters of shop space. It also dispenses with previous models of operation like the click-and-collect and click-inside systems.

There are three main differences being introduced, along with the new time limit, which the Digital Governance Ministry is considering. 

The first is that consumers will send a text message to a new five-digit number, not 13033, if they wish to shop for commodities other than food and drink. The second concerns the extension of the time limit per outing to three hours as opposed to the two-hour period allowed for shopping at supermarkets. The third, meanwhile, is likely to be a cap on such outings to one a day.

In order to prevent citizens from sending multiple messages in a single day for permission to go shopping by simply deleting the previous message – as was witnessed in January – the new system will ensure that a second SMS sent to the new hotline from the same cellphone will be automatically rejected.

Of course, citizens can still abuse the system by using a written declaration instead of a text message, as is permitted.

Businesses themselves are eager for a time limit to be set on consumers’ visits, while the General Secretariat for Commerce and Consumers has also developed an initiative to that end.

Its idea was a countdown clock that could be accessed through the secretariat’s app and used only once a day for three or four hours. However the prime minister’s office rejected the scheme, as a significant share of consumers do not have smartphones.