Businessmen and store owners yesterday backed a proposal by Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras that numerous small protest marches in central Athens should not be allowed to block traffic and damage business. Polydoras suggested that if less than 500 people attend a rally, they should be restricted to marching on the inner lane of the street to prevent traffic snarl-ups. Shopkeepers who attended yesterday’s meeting say frequent protests are harmful to business. «We are not against protests, but we need to create a proper institutional framework to govern them so they do not damage the interests of citizens and traders,» Dimitris Armenakis, the head of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), told Kathimerini. Police estimate that there are up to five protests in Athens each day and store owners claim that 460 rallies so far this year have been attended by less than 500 people. The merchants believe that the marches cause their sales to drop by up to 75 percent.