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Society

Greek Archaeological, Culture Sites Reopening With COVID-19 Lockdown Lift

ATHENS – The third phase of the lifting of a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus began was implemented May 18 including the reopening of more than 200 archaeological sites.

That will be followed on May 25 with the reopening of more stores and then on June 1 for summer cinemas and museums on June 15, and arts events on July 15, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said, the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) reported.

The archeological sites will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with all the necessary safety measures, according to the instructions of the National Public Health Organisation (EODY), including trying to keep people the safe social distance of 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart, limiting the numbers allowed in, marking safe routes, separating entry and exit while placing plexiglass divider panels if needed.

There will also be special rules for sanitary facilities. The use of a protective mask is also recommended as well as the use of alcoholic antiseptic solution being made available.

Besides ancient sites, also high schools, shopping malls reopened and mainland travel in the latest round of easing pandemic restrictions imposed in late March.

Paving stickers were used as markers to keep visitors apart outside the Acropolis, while students were placed on rotation with online teaching to keep classes below 50% capacity.

Public compliance with strict lockdown measures helped keep the COVID-19 death toll to 166 while the total number of confirmed cases stood at 2,834 on Sunday. But authorities are keen to reopen the vital tourism sector, following a warning by the EU Commission that Greece is likely to suffer the worst recession in the bloc this year.

Public beaches reopened over the weekend amid heatwave temperatures, with strict distancing rules imposed by the government, but crowding did occur on buses from Athens to the nearby coast.

Travel to the Greek islands remains broadly restricted.

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