Greece reopens restaurant terraces amid joy after long Covid lockdown

WION Web Team
Athens Published: May 03, 2021, 04:44 PM(IST)

People sit at a restaurant's terrace on Monastiraki square in Athens on May 3 Photograph:( AFP )

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Only cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating were allowed to reopen even as several restaurants closed permanently in Athens and Thessaloniki. 

Greece on Monday reopened restaurants and cafe terraces after six months amid the coronavirus pandemic as Orthodox Christians in the country celebrated Easter.

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The country has been under coronavirus restrictions since November as it experienced the third wave which hit Greece hard with over 10,000 deaths reported. 

The government had allowed non-essential businesses and schools to reopen last months as it slowly moved to remove restrictions although authorities have continued curfew till 11pm in order to keep the COVID-19 situation under control.

On Monday, however, only cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating were allowed to reopen even as several restaurants closed permanently in Athens and Thessaloniki. 

The restaurants had to comply with stringent COVID-19 rules with only six people allowed per table and waiters to mandatorily wear masks and coronavirus testing to take place once a week.

Greece which depends heavily on tourism lifted a mandatory seven-day quarantine for travellers from the European Union, US, UK, Israel, Serbia and the United Arab Emirates, but tourists have to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.

The government had said earlier that it plans to ramp up its vaccine rollout to build "wall of immunity" while adding that it would finish vaccinating all the over-60s by May. 

Authorities has sped up the vaccination drive ahead of the summer tourist season with people over 30 currently eligible for the jab amid reports European Union has proposed travellers who are fully vaccinated with EU-approved jabs be able to enter the bloc soon.

The European Union has four vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency(EMA) namely Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The EMA is also contemplating the use of  Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

Greece has over 345,000 COVID-19 cases currently with over 10,400 fatalities. The country plans to formally reopen on May 14 with several businesses eager to welcome summer travellers after losing out last year.

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