Greece will begin to gradually ease lockdown restrictions taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), Greek Minister of Development and Investment Adonis Georgiadis announced on Friday.
As of Monday, January 18, all retail stores and shopping malls in the country will reopen, along with a number of other businesses including hair and beauty salons and vehicle inspection services (KTEO). All businesses that will open as of January 18 will have the option to also operate on Sunday, January 24, in order for overcrowding to be avoided during the previous days.
Speaking during the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 media briefing, Minister Georgiadis reminded that despite the opening of the retail market Greece’s strict curfew will still be in force (non-essential movement in the country is banned from 9pm until 5am). Outside movement will continue to be allowed only for specific reasons and by sending an SMS to the five-digit mobile phone service 13033. (For movements related to shopping at retail stores and going to hairdressers and other businesses that will open, consumers must send an SMS to 13033.) Also, movement between prefectures continues to be banned.
Businesses open under rules on Monday, January 18
Minister Georgiadis announced the following:
- Stores can operate from 7am (optional) until 8pm (so that employees can return home by 9 when curfew begins).
- Consumers can shop only by sending an SMS (option 2) to 13033 or by having a handwritten movement certificate with them while shopping. All consumers must keep the SMS as proof of permission for movement and must show it to authorities upon request.
- Movement to shop will last two hours, which gives consumers enough time to make purchases inside the store while following strict social distancing measures. The two hours to shop will begin from the time of sending (and approval) of the SMS for movement.
- Only four customers are allowed per stores up to 100 square meters. For stores of over 100 square meters in size, one extra person for every 25 square meters is allowed.
- For shopping malls, discount malls and outlet stores specifically, one customer per 25 square meters will be allowed.
- Shops and stores in Greek areas that are at the Covid-19 “red” risk level and are under hard lockdown, are only allow operate via the click away method.
- In all stores and shopping malls, a distance of 2 meters must be observed between customers during the wait at the checkout counter.
Fines for violators of social distancing measures in stores will be increased by 50 percent (fines currently stand at 300 euros for individuals and 3,000 euros for businesses).
- Hairdressers, barbershops and beauty salons are allowed to open but can service customers only by appointment.
- Vehicle inspection services (KTEO) can service the public only by appointment.
- Masks must be worn at all times by both store employees and consumers.
Minister Georgiadis stressed that if citizens do not comply with the safety measures (movement restrictions, wearing masks, following social distancing rules) and Covid-19 cases begin to rise, the government will not hesitate to shut all businesses again.
The minister underlined that Greece’s progress in recent weeks in relation to the pandemic comes following a major effort.
“This good epidemiological image cannot go to waste… However, if the pandemic shows signs of resurgence, we will be forced to take back these measures. We will not risk the health of the Greek people,” he said.
Besides the opening of Greek retail as of January 18, the country’s lockdown remains in force. The country entered its second lockdown on November 7 following a sharp rise in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. Retail stores had gradually began to operate (with the click away method) before and during the holidays but were shut again in early January.
Greek health authorities on Friday announced 610 new coronavirus cases and 34 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, the total number of cases in the country has reached 147,860. The Covid-19 death toll in Greece is 5,421.