Greece's Push Towards Normality
With the European summer looming, Greece is beginning to ease its lockdown laws to begin the return to normality, or the “new normal” as the government put it. Aiming to be in a place where they can safely re-open the borders to tourists, their efforts are aimed at salvaging what is left of the year in order to keep the tourism industry alive.
Stage one of easing the lockdowns has seen the introduction of some new rules, including the mandatory use of face masks by workers, including those working in the food industry, supermarkets and grocery stores, public transport and taxis, hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres, hairdressers and beauty salons. They have also recommended that customers also oblige to wearing face masks, even recommending those working in offices, going to school or university, and those going to places of worship and churches also follow the rule.
While they have allowed for Greeks to travel within their prefecture without an excuse, there are still limits in place regarding travel to other islands. There is aims to allow for full freedom of travel within the country, the situation will be continually assessed with rules being adjusted accordingly. This freedom for movement comes with the implementation of social distancing laws. People must keep a minimum distance of 1.5m between each other. Public gatherings have been recommended to a 10-person limit, with the number of customers allowed into stores also being under strict social distancing rules. This extends to places of worship and churches, who are open to the public but only for individual worship.
Businesses that have been re-opened include retail businesses with lower congestion levels, and businesses offering services, although hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons are working by appointment only, not allowing for walk-ins as a way to control/monitor the number of clients in the store at once.
In an effort to limit the number of people crowding public transport the government has urged people to use personal cars even suspending parking fees in the metropolitan centres.
Anyone caught violating the strict rules put in place by the government will be faced with some hefty fines. Individuals are facing fines starting at 150 euros and going all the way up to 5,000 euros, while businesses will be facing larger fines and possible closures. Their fines will begin at 1,000 euros and go up to 100,000 euros, with closures lasting from 15 to 90 days.
Greece’s quick response and strict measures put in place are what has allowed them to be in a situation where they can re-open their borders to tourists. While the curve has been flattened due to these measures, the situation will have to be continually assessed in order to ensure these changes do not lead to a breakout. The government has advised that they will continue testing in order to accurately monitor this.