NEWS

Announcements on holiday restrictions expected Friday

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The Greek government’s final decision on the restrictions that will continue to be enforced to contain the coronavirus or lifted over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays is expected at the end of the week, spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Tuesday.

Friday’s announcement is expected to address questions like whether people will be allowed to travel outside their regional unit, as well as whether retail stores, churches and hair salons will be allowed to open for the holidays.

Speaking on Antenna television, Petsas confirmed that restaurants, cafes and bars will stay shut during the extended lockdown through January 7, though he hinted that rules governing the operation of the retail sector may be relaxed to allow Christmas shopping, saying that citizens will be allowed to shop outside their municipal area on the condition that they send the requisite SMS for authorization.

The reopening of retail is not a given, however, as health experts advising the government have expressed serious reservations following recent scenes of massive overcrowding in London and other cities that allowed store to reopen.

The government spokesman also indicated that the current 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew might be made shorter, in the event that shops reopen over the holidays.

“Naturally, [curfew] hours will have to be adjusted if retail reopens,” he said. “First because operating hours will be extended to prevent overcrowding and second so that people have enough time to get back home.”

Concerning travel between regions, Petsas said this will likely continue to be prohibited for holidaymakers, but may be allowed for students and people working away from their main area of residence so that they can spend the holidays with their families.

On the controversial issue of churches, where the government has been coming under increasing pressure from member of the clergy, Petsas indicated that their reopening will also depend on the decisions made on shops.

“You can’t open retail and keep churches closed,” he said.