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Greece Extends COVID Restrictions to December 14, Christmas, Holiday Stores to Open

ATHENS — The current restrictions in force throughout Greece to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have been extended until 6:00 on Monday, December 14, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas announced during a press briefing on Thursday. According to Petsas, the number of cases was stabilising but at a slower rate than expected.

Petsas also referred to the coronavirus vaccine, saying that there will be 1,018 vaccination centres throughout Greece and that the goal is to vaccinate almost two million Greeks every month. He also announced that from Monday, December 7, shops selling goods for the Christmas holiday season will be allowed to open.

On recent controversy regarding the handling of the pandemic, Petsas said that a united front that had formed nationwide from the first moments of the pandemic "was now being undermined by groundless claims that adopt conspiracy-theory practices and spread fake news." He noted that the government, the National Public Health Organisation, leading scientists and members of the Committee of Experts had provided definitive answers to defend the truth "with respect for the citizens and the hundreds of scientists who participated in the collection of the data."

He also noted that "citizens are well aware that the government has from the first moment chosen to have and provide a complete picture of the epidemiological situation in the country."

Petsas said that extending the general restrictions was deemed necessary as the epidemiological load continues to be high. "Protecting public health and human life remains a priority," he noted and also pointed out that, in spite of the unhappiness felt by everyone due to the pandemic, "the hope that science brings to the whole world will be visible this Christmas."

"One after another, a series of vaccines are in the process of final approval and will be in our country at the end of December or the beginning of January, at the same time that they go to other EU countries with the same proportion in terms of population and the same cost, part of which will be covered by the European Commission," he added.

He stressed that "the vaccination will be voluntary and free and there will be an effort and a campaign to convince our fellow citizens regarding its safety and effectiveness."

Greece Will Allow Christmas, Holiday Stores to Open

While other non-essential businesses will remain closed, stores in Greece selling Christmas trees and holiday decorations will reopen Dec. 7.

Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis gave the go-ahead even though retail stores and others relying on Christmas to save an economy shocked by two closings will have to stay shut if the lockdown remains in place.

The ministry said it would also now allow supermarkets to sell seasonal items after they had been prohibited as unfair competition against the closed stores that open for holiday periods only.

The ban on the sale of other durables in supermarkets like books, clothing, footwear and electronic equipment will remain in place he told the state-run broadcaster ERT.

Georgiadis said he made an exception because the seasonal stores are only few in number and opening them “will not burden the epidemiological situation” in the country without explaining why people couldn't get the Coronavirus there.

“The rest [of the shops] will necessarily follow the pace of the pandemic,” he said although it could be too late for many, especially restaurants that staggered through a first 10-week lockdown and operated with such severe health restrictions the rest of the year that could see a number closed permanently.

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