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Politics

Mitsotakis Ready to Show Greece’s Post-COVID-19 Recovery Plan

ATHENS – As the deadly COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic continues to slowly wind down and a lockdown aimed at preventing its spread is gradually being lifted across Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on May 20 is set to release details for a recovery.

The key aspect is tourism, the country’s biggest revenue engine which brings in as much as 18-20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 183.22 billion euros ($200.3 billion) and was expected to fall as much as 80 percent with no full international air traffic yet.

The heart of the plan is to reopen the country’s borders to travelers from across the European Union, but also Israel, by July 1 at the latest and possibly by as early as June 15.

That was reported by Kathimerini which also said major hotel chains operating on a seasonal basis have already adopted strict hygiene measures to protect staff and guests from any resurgence of the virus. Year-round hotels and resorts will open June 1.

Hotel owners told the paper they still expect a relatively good summer – unless COVID-19 comes back and if air traffic picks up unless people are afraid to travel, even to summer hot spots such as Greece, which had been on a record run of tourism years.

The government is reportedly planning a series of “targeted measures” over the next few weeks and months, the paper said, likely including a cut in the Value Added Tax (VAT) for transport catering services.

There could also be subsidies for employees on reduced hours, some form of compensation for property owners who suffered losses as a result of rent reductions, support for borrowers, as well as a reduction in the tax advance for businesses that have been hurt by the lockdown.

More permanent measures to help the labor market may include some reductions to social security payments for employers and employees to prevent a spike in unemployment after previous estimates suggested it could top 22 percent.

The economy was just starting to faster pull out of a near decade-long crisis after the Aug. 20, 2018 end of three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($356.39 billion) before that was brought to a screeching halt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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