The sense of discipline that characterized the public during the country’s almost two-month quarantine was also on display on Monday, when the government started to lift the lockdown.
The operation of certain categories of stores, the easing of restrictions on movement, as well as the opening of sports venues and parks indicated that the gradual return to normalcy can be attained without compromising what the country has achieved by imposing strict quarantine rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Citizens on Monday appeared to adhere to the guidelines set by the new framework that has accompanied the easing of restrictions.
Masks, a necessary accessory of the times, were visible everywhere, with widespread use by citizens and not only where mandatory.
The public transport system, where the use of a mask is compulsory, operated without any problems, while the new framework provides for restrictions on the use of seats and the observance of specific distances between passengers.
So-called “Passenger Assistants” were at the main metro stations advising and urging passengers to observe safety measures. At the same time, police were stationed at bus stops to monitor the safety guidelines. On buses and trolleys, a plastic divider separates the driver from passengers, who are not allowed to sit next to each other.
In metro carriages, of the 240 seats available, 120 can be used while ribbons have been placed in the intermediate seats so that passengers do not sit side by side.
“So far, everything is going well, passengers are wearing masks and people do not need much encouragement from the escorts that we have in place,” said Stefanos Agiasoglou, the CEO of Attica’s bus and trolley bus operator, OSY. The relaxation of the measures, however, was accompanied by increased traffic on the roads.
Monday also saw the opening of small shops, including bookstores, stationery, computer and telecommunications and sports stores, florists, beauty salons, opticians and stores selling hearing aids.
Before Monday, Dimitris Farmakis’ optical store in Nea Smyrni had only been opening for emergencies during the lockdown.
“We wear a mask and gloves, while every lens and frame that is touched is sterilized afterward because not all customers wear masks; although when we get in close contact we do ask them to wear them,” he told Kathimerini.
According to the proprietor of a store selling stationary and supplies for school pupils, “some [customers] were more frightened – they rushed in, first checking how crowded the store was and whether people were wearing masks etc – others were more brave,” he said through his mask.