2nd Lockdown - Retail Easing

The government announced that the retail sector, along with hairdressers and nail salons can reopen for business between 7:00am to 8:00pm from Monday 18th January 2021.  In areas of increased transmission risk, some stores will operate on a cubside pick-up basis only.  In order to make their purchases, customers must send an SMS to the country's toll-free number using the number 2, which was the code for making essential purchases. Under the new measures, customers will have a total of 2 hours per day to shop and there will be a limit to the amount of customers permitted inside a store, to maintain safe social distancing.  The curfew remains from 9:00pm to 5:00am and the use of face masks in all interior and exterior settings is still mandatory.  Travel between prefecture regions is still prohibited.

Many shops opened on Monday with Sale offers to the public, as the traditional Winter Sales were delayed due to the restrictions*.  Many shoppers were out in force in the larger cities, looking for bargains.  Supermarkets will have to reduce the number of customers they serve at any one time by up to 60% due to the measures imposed on retail commerce when the other stores reopen.  Owners already predict long queues outside their supermarkets.  The Reasearch Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA) is calling on the previous rules to be restored, allowing one customer per 10 Sqm of store area instead of of the current regulation of one customer per 25 Sqm.  It also calls for all food stores and supermarkets to close at 8:30pm every day, as was the case until last week, and not at 8:00pm as at present.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed that the reopening of ski resorts, restaurants and the liberalising of long-distance travel was just speculation.  The next priority for the government is the opening of secondary schools, other activities can wait a little longer in line with government strategy.  Current estimates suggest it will take another month of strict adherence to the restrictive measures before Greece is 'out of the woods'.  Basically, the governments strategy is to continue on its path of caution until the Spring, when the positive effects of the vaccination campaign begin to kick in and the weather improves.  According to the latest information, over 90,000 vaccinations have been carried out in Greece, and the next age group (80 to 84 years old) is about to start with getting their jabs.

A total of 144 coronavirus vaccination centres will open in the next few days, with a total of 1,000 centres to be gradually opened across the country as more doses of the Covid-19 vaccine become available.  Most centres will be found in Attica and Thessaloniki.

*The impact on retail commerce of the 2nd nationwide lockdown that started 7th November 2020 has been huge.  The turnover of clothing merchandise alone plunged 66%, even though online sales showed a 39% jump.  Retail stores that opened in most areas of the country on Monday are considered to be doing brisk business.  Shops have an option to open from 7:00am to 8:00pm on Sundays, in the context of the annual Winter Sales that officially started on 11th January and will last up to 28th February 2021.