Greece is loosening some curbs to ease pandemic fatigue and stores need to reopen

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People make their way to Monastiraki Square amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Athens

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By George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will loosen some COVID-19 barriers to ease people’s fatigue from lengthy restrictions and allow small retail stores to reopen, authorities said on Wednesday as COVID-19 infections continue to rise.

“We recognize the mental fatigue, but the pandemic continues to show its teeth, which do not allow any further relaxation, but only small breaths of freedom,” said Deputy Disaster Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias.

From April 5, small retail stores will be reopened for business operations in so-called click-away and click-in shop modes. This means that consumers have to make appointments and adhere to a three-hour limit for shopping.

Retailers cannot allow more than one customer per 25 square feet in their stores. The measure excludes shopping centers and department stores that remain closed.

The government also relaxed the restrictions that restricted people’s movement beyond their community. Starting on Saturday, people can drive beyond their community’s boundaries to play sports or get some fresh air.

“The virus variants are more transmissible than before. We are under great pressure on our hospital system, especially in the Athens metropolitan area,” said Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias.

On Wednesday, Greece reported 3,616 new COVID-19 infections and 76 deaths, bringing the total to 263,689 infections and 8,093 deaths related to COVID. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

After outperforming many European countries in the first wave of last year, infections are on the rise and hit record levels this week as hospitals are under severe stress despite a five-month lockdown and some advances in vaccinations.

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