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Greece Coming Back Slowly as COVID-19 Pandemic Retreats

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Commuters make their way on central Monastiraki square, in Athens, Thursday, June 9, 2021. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Vassilis Rempapis)

ATHENS – It's not over but the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece is lessening enough, with cases and hospitalizations and deaths dropping sufficiently for the New Democracy government to further ease health measures and try to restore near normal life again.

That will see a curfew being shorter and more activities opening up, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias said, reported Kathimerini, after a scientific advisory panel that includes doctors and professors recommended it.

That means the curfew that once had been 9 p.m. now will be 1:30 a.m. to help restaurants and lure tourists and last only until 5 a.m. as of June 12 and what's left of a lenient lockdown could be ended the beginning of July. 

Music is also being allowed for restaurants and bars who have outside service and people must be seated but there was no indication how it would be enforced if they don't as safe social distances have largely been abandoned already.

If crowds do gather there and try to party or take advantage of the relaxed rules the business faces fines of 5,000 euros ($6083.43) for a first violation and will be shut down 15 days for a second violation.

Cafes, bars and restaurants in arcades will be allowed to open as well but only those which have two exits to allow for air movement and entertainment venues will be allowed to seat more people, including cinemas, and theaters.

From 50 percent now, allowed capacity in spaces with up to 1,000 seats will increase to 75 percent, in venues with up to 5,000 seats it will come to 70 percent, in venues with up to 15,000 seats to 65 percent and, in larger venues, attendance will be capped at 10,000, the paper said.

As of June 14, university labs and medical school clinics will reopen, as well as adult education activities at universities.

On July 1, with Greece hoping it will be a boom month and summer season for tourists, 300 people instead of 100 will be allowed at catered receptions and country fairs  will be allowed to resume only in regional units where at least 50 percent of the population has been vaccinated.

While little more than 20 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated – health experts said the critical benchmark was 70 percent – the program has worked well enough to push down cases and ease the lockdown.