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Athens Historic Center Shops Can Open on Sundays in 2021

Plaka district, Athens.

As of November 2021, shop owners with businesses in the historic center of Athens will have the option to remain open on Sundays, according to a decision published in the Government Gazette.

The new law, which goes into force in November 2021, follows consultation with trade groups and organizations and allows the operation of shops on all Sundays of the year and not only on those currently designated in the May-October period.

The new measure applies to stores in the popular tourist districts of Plaka, Monastiraki and around the Acropolis, and is based on similar decisions implemented in other European cities aimed at the development of tourism-related enterprise as well as at supporting small or medium-sized businesses which are for the most part family owned, the regional authority said.

Monastiraki square, Athens

Monastiraki square, Athens

Consultation and talks on the decision were held in July overseen by Central Athens regional unit officials, Athens trade and chamber representatives, as well as municipal police and local government authorities.

It should be reminded that labor groups and retail trade bodies have opposed the opening of shops on Sundays since 2014, citing exorbitant costs and labor rights.

In 2017, the economy ministry had announced areas in the regions of Attica and Central Macedonia, where shops could operate on 32 Sundays a year from May to October.

However, the decision to keep shops open on all Sundays – among the demands of Greece’s international lenders as part of its debt relief deal – has repeatedly sparked the outrage of small and medium-sized enterprises as well as of larger supermarket chains.

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On their part, the tourism and hospitality sectors insist that open shops will better promote city break destinations such as Athens. Last year,  the Athens Traders Association (ESA) called on the government to draw up and implement a comprehensive shopping destination branding strategy if it wants to see revenues rise.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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