ATHENS — "As of this morning, another important step is being taken for the reopening of economic and social activities that had been suspended for a time, in order to stop the spread of coronavirus," government spokesperson Christos Tarantilis said on Monday during a press briefing.
He explained in detail that, with a decision of the government and with the consent of the committee of infectious diseases, retail trade businesses have reopened, with optional operating hours from 07:00 in the morning until 08:00 in the evening, with the exception of areas of increased risk, where the click-away system is operating. Also open are hairdressers, barber shops and beauty salons, diet centres, personal hygiene stores and body care services, as well as vehicle road safety inspection stations (KTEO).
Customers will still be obliged to use the SMS (text messaging) system or equivalents in order to leave their home to shop, sending an SMS to the phone line 13033, selecting option 2.
Churches will also open but admission will be limited to one person per 25 square meters and a maximum of 50 people.
Strict measures will also apply within shops, including a maximum limit on the number of customers allowed to enter at any given time, keeping a distance of two metres from others at the checkout queue and mandatory use of a mask for everyone at all times.
Regarding the progress made in terms of the pandemic in Greece, the government spokesperson stressed that "it is obvious that the gradual opening of economic and social activities is possible after a long period of restrictive measures, which showed that the pandemic increases with lightning speed, while de-escalation requires a lot of time and sacrifices. And this requires that we all remain vigilant.
"The fact is that – according to the maps of the ECDC (European Center for Prevention and Control) – Greece has much better indicators in terms of the pandemic than other European countries. While at the moment all of Europe is coloured red, only our country, Finland and Denmark are yellow, indicating a transmissibility index below 4."
Tarantilis also pointed out that in many countries – such as France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom – new diagnoses and deaths are unfortunately at very high levels.
"In Greece, the reduction of active cases and the easing of pressure on the health system continue. The number of patients has decreased significantly across the country and is estimated at 1,700, while the average number of new admissions per day was 130 last week, which is lower than half the number we had a month ago.
"It is also important that the first week of the reopening of primary schools, kindergartens, nurseries and special education schools went extremely well, as only 3 out of 10,000 departments across the country had to close.
The results from the voluntary testing of our teachers were also encouraging, as in the first week only seven cases were identified in the approximately 5,000 tests that were performed, ie a percentage of positivity of only 0.14 pct," the spokesperson said.
Regarding the vaccinations, Tarantilis pointed out that "since Saturday, the vaccination process has entered its second phase, with the start of vaccination of our fellow citizens aged 85 and over."
As of Sunday, a total of 80,531 vaccinations had been performed, he added.
Within the next month, four large vaccination centres will begin operating in Athens and Thessaloniki, which will have the capacity to carry out 20,000 vaccinations per day.
Within the first quarter of 2021, it is estimated that the influx of vaccine doses will increase significantly, making it possible to reach the goal of vaccinating the majority of citizens by the summer, he said.