Joy and caution as Greek shops re-open amid strict safety limits

By Deborah Kyvrikosaios ATHENS (Reuters) - Shops in Greece reopened for the first time in two months on Monday as the government took its first steps towards easing coronavirus restrictions to try to breathe life into the retail sector. Retailers selling non-essential items were allowed to serve customers under heavy restrictions, with shoppers required to register by instant message and book appointments with hair salons.

Reuters January 19, 2021 00:10:48 IST
Joy and caution as Greek shops re-open amid strict safety limits

Joy and caution as Greek shops reopen amid strict safety limits

By Deborah Kyvrikosaios

ATHENS (Reuters) - Shops in Greece reopened for the first time in two months on Monday as the government took its first steps towards easing coronavirus restrictions to try to breathe life into the retail sector.

Retailers selling non-essential items were allowed to serve customers under heavy restrictions, with shoppers required to register by instant message and book appointments with hair salons. But businesses welcomed the first sign of a return to normality.

"It's a very positive development," said Giannis Chatzitheodosiou, president of the Athens trade chamber, adding that both businesses and shoppers were being asked to stick to strict safety guidelines.

"One in four businesses will never open again, we are fighting for the remaining 75% to survive."

While Greece has succeeded better than many other European countries in limiting the spread of the virus, it has suffered more than 5,000 dead and its health system, badly weakened after years of financial crisis, has been under severe strain.

Its economy is expected to have shrunk by more than 10% last year after two lockdowns and a disrupted summer tourist season, and the government spent some 24 billion euros ($29 billion) to support businesses and employees hit by the restrictions.

In Ermou, one of Athens' main shopping streets, people formed long queues outside stores and boutiques that imposed strict social-distancing limits inside. But businesses were also worried about the long-term economic fallout from the crisis.

"There is joy (of course) but the thing is for everything to go well, and not to close down again, because it's not the easiest environment to survive in right now," said Kostas Apostolopoulos, who owns a hat shop in central Athens.

While stores were allowed to re-open and authorities have begun rolling out vaccinations, other restrictions remained in place, with a ban on public gatherings and compulsory mask-wearing in public.

On Monday, health authorities reported 320 new cases and 19 related deaths, bringing COVID-19 infections since the first case was detected in February to 148,925 and deaths to 5,488.

(Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.