After almost six months of lockdown, cafes and restaurants reopened in Greece on Monday, with customers allowed to be served in outdoor areas, and the whole country looking ahead to the relaunch later this month of the vital tourism industry.
What’s more, the nightly curfew has been further shortened and will now be in effect from 11 p.m. (instead of 10 p.m.) to 5 a.m. Monday’s reopenings appeared successful, but there is still a long way to go as this is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that social and economic activities have resumed while numbers of daily infections remain very high.
The next fortnight will also see more restrictions lifted, not least those regarding schools, as primary and secondary level pupils (grades 1, 2 and 3) will return to their classrooms with obligatory self-testing.
The plan also foresees the lifting of the ban on interregional movement on May 15 to coincide with the formal opening of the tourist season. Tourists will have to present either a vaccination certificate or a negative molecular test taken up to 72 hours before arrival.
May 15 will also see the scrapping of the SMS system that people have had to use when moving around.
With regard to interregional travel, the final decision has not yet been set in stone. However, the scenario being examined stipulates that travelers will have to present a negative self-test or certification that they have had both doses of the vaccine (or one in the case of the J&J shot).
Health authorities and government officials hailed the opening of cafes and restaurants on Monday, but reiterated the need for the public to adhere to all safety protocols.
More specifically, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis warned against public complacency as the virus has not yet been beaten.
“We are reopening food businesses but the virus is still here. The risk is not over yet,” Georgiadis told state broadcaster ERT.
“We do not want to curb anyone’s freedom, but the virus needs to be kept under control,” he said.
Businesses are only allowed to serve customers in the open, with tables set up at a mandatory distance and up to six patrons per table to limit the number of close contacts. Self-testing for Covid-19 is compulsory for workers, who also have to wear a mask.
Businesses are not allowed to play music, to prevent people getting too close together to be heard, and have to close by 10.45 p.m.
Whoever wishes to visit these places must send a text message to 13033 with the code number 6.