As retail trade partially opened on Monday, targeted measures to the tune of 130 million euros in support to around 100,000 businesses that remain closed (excluding catering, which will be financed through the European Union’s National Strategic Reference Framework / ESPA) were announced by Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.
Kathimerini understands that the government will support businesses, professionals and households whenever needed in an ad hoc manner and not universally. This rationale will continue until the end of the year, according to Finance Ministry sources, unless a fourth wave of the pandemic necessitates a new market shutdown.
The support will go to businesses that remain closed in April, including those active in retail, tourism, culture, sports and transport, as well as betting shops, gyms, playgrounds and others.
The support, which consists of non-repayable aid of 1,000-4,000 euros, was decided by the government after the strong reactions caused by the extension of the lockdown for retail in the “red” areas where the viral load remains relentless.
The situation in Achaia, southern Greece, and Kozani in the north, along with the significant increase in the viral load in Thessaloniki and mounting pressure on hospitals were the main reasons that retail trade was not reopened in these areas.
According to Gkikas Magiorkinis, assistant professor of epidemiology at Athens University, these areas have been under the microscope of the Committee of Experts for some time, as the number of active cases is constantly increasing and, despite the lockdown, the transmissibility index (Rt) has not retreated as is the case in other cities of similar size.
However, the most significant factor that led to the non-resumption of retail in these areas was the serious burden on hospitals and the large increase in the viral load detected in the sewage of Thessaloniki in recent days.
Tellingly, on Sunday morning, the occupancy rate of Covid intensive care unit beds in the hospitals in Ptolemaida and Kozani was close to 100%.
In Achaia the occupancy rate in normal beds was 95%, with only two empty ICU Covid beds.
In Thessaloniki, 90% of Covid ICUs were occupied.