Greece Begins Stage 1 of a ‘New Normal’ After Easing Covid-19 Restrictions
Greece has entered its first stage in easing a nationwide lockdown which it imposed six weeks ago to curb the spread of Covid-19.
As of 6am on Monday, May 4, Greece began its transition to a “new normal” (as referred to by the government), with new rules for the entire population (mandatory use of face masks, social distancing-minimum of 1.5m distance) and continuous monitoring by authorities, aiming to restore economic activity while maintaining public health.
“From staying home we are now called to stay safe,” the deputy minister of civil protection, Nikos Hardalias, said on Sunday, underlining that the following days and weeks will be more difficult and complex, but extremely important.
“From 6am on Monday morning we are all called to build a ‘new wall’ to limit the spread of the virus,” he added.
As of May 4, Greeks will be allowed to travel freely within the prefecture, with some exceptions (travel to islands within the same regional unit is prohibited with some exceptions). The government will be making a continuous reassessment with a view to an eventual full liberalisation.
Individual exercise in open spaces is allowed, as well as swimming in beaches (not organized).
Individual worship is allowed with gatherings not exceeding 10 people.
The government has made a recommendation for limiting public gatherings of up to 10 people. A strong recommendation has also been made for limited movement in open public spaces from midnight to 6am.
Aiming to decongest public transport during the two first critical months, the government has made a recommendation for people to use passenger vehicles and announced the suspension of circulation rules within central Athens and free parking in metropolitan centers.
Which businesses have reopened
As of May 4, a number of business categories opened their doors following the six-week lockdown:
Retail businesses with low congestion levels, including shops that sell electronics (computers, etc); telecommunications equipment (cell phones, etc); books, newspapers and stationery; sports equipment; flowers, plants, seeds, fertilizers; and house pets and pet food.
Businesses offering services, including hairdressers, barbershops and beauty salons (only with appointment); clothing / footwear repair; and optical / hearing aids stores.
Also in operation are the country’s vehicle inspection services (KTEO).
The government has announced that the opening hours of commercial shops will temporarily set at 10am for those in the Attica Region (except the nearby islands) and in the municipalities of the Thessaloniki City Council.
The opening hours of supermarkets in the country remain (until May 9) from Monday to Friday, from 7am to 9pm and Saturday from 7am to 8pm.
Hairdressers, barbershops and beauty salons are at liberty to extend their opening hours from Monday to Friday, from 7am to 10pm and Saturday from 7am to 9pm.
The Greek government’s general directions to the public include mandatory use of face masks by those working in small eateries (outdoor); supermarkets and grocery stores; public transport and taxis; hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers; hairdressers and beauty salons.
Customers are obliged to wear masks when traveling on public transport and in taxis; in lifts; and hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers. It is recommended for customers to also wear masks when shopping in supermarkets and grocery stores; and when receiving services at hairdressers and beauty salons.
Both customers and employees are also advised to wear masks in offices; schools, universities, tutorial centers; places of worship and churches; and retail stores.
The Greek government has announced that the reopening of businesses comes with social distancing rules regarding how many people are allowed in one space.
Those found in violation of the government’s measures and announcements will be faced with fines (starting at 150 euros and up to 5,000 euros). Businesses that violate the measures will be fined for each violation (starting at 1,000 and reaching 100,000 euros) and will be forced to close temporarily (from 15 to 90 days).