NEWS

As easing of restrictions begins, gov’t mulls speeding up process in other sectors

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As the easing of the lockdown measures begins on Monday with the opening of small retail stores and hairdressers and the free movement of people within the prefecture of their permanent residence, the government is now examining whether to speed up the process for others sectors.

Apart from the return of senior high school pupils on May 11, the next steps that have been announced – mainly free movement across the country and on the islands – are pending, as everything will depend on developments with the coronavirus and experts’ suggestions.

What is known so far is that on May 18, the government plans to allow free movement on the mainland. In practice, this means that everyone will be able to drive wherever they want.

However, the same will not apply on the islands. At the moment the plan stipulates that free movement on the islands will be allowed as of June 1 and will be accompanied by the opening of restaurants, cafes and year-round hotels.

Kathimerini understands that if everything goes well and the pandemic does not rebound in the next few days – after the first lifting of restrictions as has been the case in other countries – free movement on the islands and the opening of cafes, restaurants and year-round hotels will happen a week earlier, on May 25.

If this happens, then the June schedule may change at some point and this could have a knock-on effect, allowing other measures to be lifted earlier as well. For example, seasonal hotels that are scheduled to open in early July could open in mid-June. At the same time, a major issue is primary schools, which has been one of the main points of contention between the government and the opposition. According to sources, it is most likely that primary schools will not be opened.

However, all of the above, are, as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has explicitly said, plans. No one can predict exactly what the next steps will be, as it all depends on the virus. What is certain, however, is that the government has been under pressure from various professional groups to strike a delicate balance between public health and restarting the economy. Despite the PM's aim to facilitate the economy, it is equally certain he will not risk public health and what has been achieved.