As expected, the government on Friday announced the opening of some retailers, albeit in what has been described as a hybrid form to pose the least possible threat to health.
More specifically, stores will employ the “click-and-collect’ model, a hybrid form of e-commerce whereby customers physically pick up merchandise they have bought online or by phone at store entrances with a receipt of online payment. Queues outside stores for curbside pickups must be limited to a maximum of nine people.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas also announces that churches will only be allowed to open to worshippers on Christmas Day and Epiphany on January 6, with limits on the number of people allowed inside.
The government is now set to contend with a series of challenges. Firstly, it remains to be seen if stores will indeed be able to operate in this unprecedented way, as most consumers are unfamiliar with the system, and many do not have the infrastructure to respond.
A second challenge, and arguable the most crucial, is to ensure that health safety will not be compromised by the further liberalization of the number 2 SMS code that people use to go shopping and will now use to pick up good from stores.
Another challenge has to do with the crowds queuing outside the shops and whether the necessary safety protocols will be observed. Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis was clear that if there are such problems, the measures allowing people to pick up goods from stores will be canceled.
Meanwhile hairdressers and bookstores will reopen on Monday, but customers can only go having booked an appointment.