The country’s highest administrative court on Thursday ordered a temporary ban on a controversial law allowing stores to open on Sundays pending its ruling on several appeals against the legislation which is to be issued by the end of this year.
Deeming that both shop owners and employees face the risk of “irreparable financial losses” and “moral damages,” the Council of State upheld in principle an appeal by store owners, workers and professional trade associations that had called for the suspension of a Development Ministry decision in July which allows the operation of stores on Sunday for a trial period of one year. The ruling later this year will determine whether the plaintiffs are vindicated or not.
In the meantime the court noted that areas that rely heavily on tourism revenue can be exempted from the temporary ban. It said that stores with a surface area of up to 250 square meters – which effectively excludes department stores and shopping malls – could be allowed to continue to open on Sundays.
Unions representing store owners and workers complain that the Sunday opening law favors chain stores and may force small, independent shops out of business. Store workers staged several strikes over the summer to protest the measure and demonstrators held rallies outside stores in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities, heckling shoppers.