Greek authorities are seeking ways to re-open retail in an attempt to get the ailing economy going after all efforts to ease lockdown measures are being pushed back due to increasing Covid-19 infection rates.
Greece’s committee of Covid-19 experts will convene on Wednesday instead of Friday to reassess the situation hoping to set a date for the resumption of market operations as well as the re-opening dates for schools.
Officials are pinning their hopes on the country’s ongoing vaccination rollout combined with the launch in Greece of a new self-testing strategy.
Alternate Interior Minister Stelios Petsas referred to a tentative April 5 opening date, adding however that it was “too early to make any decisions”. Last week, he ruled out opening retail on March 29, suggested earlier.
Greece recorded 1,449 new Covid-19 cases over the last 24-hour period and 54 deaths with the number of intubated patients on the rise.
At the same time, according to the FT’s coronavirus tracker, the number of new deaths in Greece attributed to Covid-19 have exceeded the EU average.
Georgiadis: Opening of shops “very near”
Investments & Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said the opening of shops was “very near”, adding that the goal was to resume operations without closing the market again. “No one can endure opening and closing anymore,” he said.
Meanwhile, with regard to retail, once stores open, people will be required to send a text message to 13032 for a three-hour shopping outing, officials said.
“This week is crucial for the next steps. We are following developments with increased concern… It’s not a given that retail will open,” said General Secretary of Commerce & Consumer Protection, Panos Stampoulidis.
Speaking to public broadcaster ERT, Stampoulidis said it would be more effective to re-open shops once public safety is assured.
Goal to re-open schools next week
Meanwhile, Greek Education Minister Niki Kerameos said all efforts were being made to re-open primary and high schools next week.
“We discussed the issue with the committee on Friday, and presented a complete plan for the opening of the first phase of secondary education. The goal is for next week at some point. It [opening] will be accompanied by the additional measure of self-testing for students and teachers with a test once a week at homes,” said Kerameos.
However, self testing, to be conducted at home with free kits available at pharmacies next month, has created disagreement among health experts with regard to accuracy. Citizens are entitled to four free Covid-19 test kits per month using their social security number (AMKA).