Greece’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus will as of Wednesday extend to the shutdown of the majority of retail stores for at least two weeks. At the same time the government is expanding by two hours daily the opening hours of supermarkets, which will also operate on Sunday, so as to reduce congestion.
According to Monday’s government announcements, with certain exceptions, all commercial stores will shut down for two weeks from March 18. The measure exempts pharmacies, food stores (from bakeries to butchers and from greengrocers to minimarkets), food service outlets for delivery and takeaway, kiosks, auto repair shops, agricultural supply stores, opticians, cellphone stores and repair shops, and courier services. Banks will also remain open.
Supermarkets will open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (instead of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays) for seven days a week for at least the next four weeks. Sunday opening will only concern the stores themselves and not home deliveries.
The new legislative act to be issued will also contain regulations against profiteering, based on the prices of procurement and retailing. The Competition Commission stressed on Monday that it will continue to examine various key parameters, imposing sanctions on any enterprises found to employ any illegal practices for their benefit.
Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis also said on Monday that there will be a limit of three antiseptic products per customer receipt in supermarkets. This is a measure the Sklavenitis chain, Greece’s leading retailer, has already started applying since Monday.
Monday was the first day of limiting the number of customers allowed into supermarkets at any given time, with a few problems, as some shoppers would not stick to the restriction of one customer per 10 square meters. Several chains have resorted to hiring security staff to control the situation.
The demand for the closure of commercial stores originated from the market itself, with requests from individual shopkeepers, the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) and the Athens Association of Traders. The ministry had initially considered the proposal of voluntary closing, but eventually the stricter measure of compulsory shutdown was chosen.