Greek Church, Retailers Hope for COVID-19 Lockdown Holiday Lift

ATHENS – With lives in the balance, Greece's retail stores and the Greek Church want to be open for the Christmas and holiday period as the New Democracy government is set to reveal whether there will be exemptions to a second COVID-19 lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the pandemic.

The closing of non-essential businesses began Nov. 7 and was due to end Dec. 7 but with the Coronavirus not under control it was extended to Jan. 7, 2021, through the holiday season where revenues are even more essential to stores.

The Greek Church, which has been split over what do do about the health protocols – some rebellious Bishops oppose the measures and want to give Holy Communion – also wants to have churches open for Christmas and other religious services.

The government said it would release its decision Dec. 12, spokesman Stelios Petsas told SKAI radio, adding that while there has been a drop in cases it hasn't been fast enough to warrant a wholesale lifting of the quasi-lockdown that's been less strict than a first in the spring. 

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs will have to wait until at least Jan. 7, ending any hopes of business through the holiday period that brings them a big chunk of annual monies but had been sources of spreading the virus.

Health authorities on Dec. 8 announced 102 deaths, bringing the total to 3,194, and 1,382 more cases, raising that toll to 118,045, with 579 patients on ventilators in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), down from 600 a day earlier.


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