The government has prepared a plan that foresees the reopening of retail commerce and food service from December 1, but its application will depend on the degree to which the pandemic can be contained in the meantime.
Alternate Development Minister Nikos Papathanasis told Skai TV on Monday there is a plan for the gradual reopening of the market in two weeks’ time, starting with retail and food catering. He argued that the situation concerning the spread of the virus is showing some stability and there will soon be a significant reduction.
He added that the reopening of enterprises will be similar to last spring’s experience, when small stores opened first, then the bigger ones, with malls and food service establishments last to open. Papathanasis further told Thema Radio that the lifting of restrictions probably won’t take place across Greece simultaneously, with the infection rate of each region also being taken into account.
Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis told Skai TV that there will be a clearer picture of the situation in about a week’s time and only then can the discussion of a reopening begin. He also said the ministry has a plan for a gradual emergence from the lockdown, adding that the decisions about that will not be made exclusively by the government but in cooperation with the scientists.
The market appears quite reserved toward Papathanasis’ statements about December 1, arguing they had a political agenda in the context of a government effort to appease retail and food service enterprises that are in a precarious position. The lockdown formally applies until November 30, but the estimates of government officials and scientists alike point to an extension until at least the first week of December as the most likely scenario.
Entrepreneurs in retail commerce told Kathimerini that the information they have received from other government officials is that it will be exceptionally difficult for their businesses to reopen before December 7. Also, they don’t see restaurants and cafés reopening (for sit-in customers) before December 14.
The same sources stress that the lifting of the restrictions should not take place suddenly and without warning, as it will take some time for stores to prepare to reopen, especially ahead of the festive season.