ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greek authorities have announced that bookshops and hairdressers will be allowed to open as of next Monday, while all other retail stores, entertainment venues, restaurants, bars and cafes will remain shut throughout the Christmas period as part of the country’s second lockdown.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Friday that despite five weeks of lockdown measures, coronavirus infections remain high, putting pressure on the country’s health system. Intensive care units are at 83% of their capacity nationwide, with that increasing to 91% of capacity in the hard-hit northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest urban center.
Petsas said a curfew currently in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be reduced by one hour as of Sunday night, when it will start at 10 p.m. every night until Jan. 7. Authorities have no intention of amending this for New Year’s Eve or Christmas Eve, he said.
Authorities also announced the softening of a compulsory quarantine of travelers arriving in Greece from Dec. 18, reducing it to three days from the previously announced 10. The measure had been announced in an effort to prevent Greeks from traveling to winter holiday destinations such as ski resorts abroad. Ski resorts in Greece have been ordered to remain shut until Jan. 7.
With a spike in online orders during the lockdown straining delivery services, Petsas said customers will be allowed to physically pick up merchandise they have bought online or by phone through a new system called “clickaway.” The goods will be picked up at store entrances with a receipt of online payment, while queues outside stores for pickups must be limited to a maximum of nine people.
Churches will be allowed to open to the faithful only on Christmas Day and Epiphany on Jan. 6, with limits on the number of people allowed inside according to church size.
Greece has registered more than 121,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 3,370 deaths.
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