Greek hair salons, flower shops, and bookstores reopened Monday as part of a gradual relaxing of lockdown constraints imposed six weeks ago to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
From early morning, police carried out inspections on buses and in metro stations to make sure passengers had been wearing the obligatory surgical masks and in shops to check whether or not social distancing guidelines were being respected.
Greeks no longer need a form stating a valid reason – comparable to shopping for food or drugs or taking the physical exercise – for permission to leave their properties.
Traffic volumes increased on the streets of Athens and other cities, and queues formed outside electrical equipment shops, which had been allowed to open for the first time since Greece placed its tough blanket lockdown in mid-March.
Greece, a nation of 11 million people, has so far registered 2,626 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and 144 deaths, far fewer than in lots of other European nations.
But Greece, which solely emerged in 2018 from a debt crisis that wiped out a quarter of its financial output, is desperate to let companies reopen and fears the coronavirus pandemic will ravage this year’s tourism revenues, a pillar of its economy.
Local television channels showed hairdressers and their clients wearing surgical masks in Athens and the northern metropolis of Thessaloniki.