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Restaurants, bars and cafes re-open in Greece after a 6-month COVID-19 shutdown

Restaurants, bars and cafes re-open in Greece after a 6-month COVID-19 shutdown
Restaurants, bars and cafes re-open in Greece after a 6-month COVID-19 shutdown
Written by Harry Johnson

Greece’s second COVID-19 lockdown, which started on November 7, 2020, is gradually being relaxed this spring

  • Greek dining and catering sector restarted under restrictions ahead of the opening of the tourism season
  • Food and drink establishments are only allowed to serve seated customers outdoors
  • Customers need to book an appointment and send a text message to a state number

After 6 months of coronavirus-induced closure, restaurants, cafes and bars have finally reopened across Greece this week.

Greece’s second COVID-19 lockdown, which started on November 7, 2020, is gradually being relaxed this spring, as the number of new coronavirus cases has stabilized lately and population’s vaccination continues.

Greek dining and catering sector restarted under restrictions ahead of the opening of the tourism season, which is scheduled for May 15.

Food and drink establishments are only allowed to serve seated customers outdoors, with maximum six persons per table and with safe distances between tables. Waiters are obliged to wear protective face masks and take two COVID-19 tests per week.

Customers need to book an appointment and send a text message to a state number to justify their outing. All food and drink establishments must close at 11.00 pm for the night-time curfew.

Over the past six months, Greek restaurants and cafes could only offer delivery and takeaway services. Many have opted to stay closed.

Over the past year, the restaurant sector lost more than 2.5 billion euros ($3 billion) in turnover, according to recent estimates by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

The Greek state’s package of support measures will total 15 billion euros this year, double the initial estimate of 7.5 billion. The cumulative total value of the support packages since the start of the pandemic stands at 39 billion euros, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said few days ago.

The measures include subsidies for bank loans, suspension of taxes and social insurance payments and financial aid through European Union (EU) funds to cover rents and other costs.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with already-authorized coronavirus vaccines. About 3.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Greece so far.