ATHENS – Greeks hoping to get out for Christmas shopping during a second wave of COVID-19 during a second lockdown will instead have to keep ordering online for deliveries or use the Internet to make reservations to go to stores to pick up their items.
That was under a limited reopening plan during the holiday period announced by the New Democracy government as the number of Coronavirus cases and those in hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) remain stubbornly high.
The second lockdown itself has been limited and far less strict than a first in the spring that closed non-essential businesses for 10 weeks but the partial easing now won’t help restaurants, bars and taverns that must stay shut.
Retailers will operate in the form of online ordering and collections from the store, without customers entering the stores (known as curbside pick-up or click-and-collect service) from Dec. 13 to Jan. 7, 2021.
But hairdressers and open again on Dec. 14 and operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. after seasonal stores selling Christmas and holiday goods such as artificial trees and decorations were allowed to open, the government saying they weren’t a risk for the virus without explaining why.
Bookstores will also open on Dec. 13, with restrictions on the number of customers allowed in at any one time which had previously resulted in queues going out the door, people were supposed to stay a safe social distance apart.
Churches, which had wanted to be open, can have services only on Christmas and Epiphany Day on Jan. 6 but only nine people can attend, and 25 in cathedrals although it wasn’t said if that would be waived for the televised service at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens that’s always packed.
Without explaining why it’s safe, the government said travelers who fly into Greece from Dec. 18-Jan. 7, 2021 will have to enter a three-day quarantine instead of 10, take a a rapid antigen test at the airport and show a negative PCR test.
From Dec. 13-Jan. 7, 2021 the national curve will begin at 10 p.m.instead of 9 p.m. and be in effect until 5 a.m. with movement outside only allowed with permission in forms from the Internet, mobile phones or handwritten, explaining what the allowed location is.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was anxious to save the Christmas season for retailers to help an economy still staggered by the first lockdown but his scientific and medical advisory panel said it wasn’t safe to lift it just yet.