The majority of Greece’s lockdown measures will remain in place over the Christmas although bookshops and hairdressers can reopen next week and the quarantine on people entering the country will be relaxed to only three days.
All other retail stores, entertainment venues, restaurants, bars and cafes will remain shut, and night-time curfews won’t be lifted even for Christmas or New Year.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that despite five weeks of lockdown measures, coronavirus infections remain high, piling pressure on the country’s health system. Intensive care units are at 83% of their capacity nationwide, with the number increasing to 91% 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.
With a huge increase of online orders during the lockdown stretching 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 “click away.” 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
Movement outside of people’s homes continues to be restricted to only a handful of reasons, with anyone venturing out having to send a text message to authorities or carry a self-declaration. Permitted reasons include exercising or walking a pet, visits to doctors, lawyers, pharmacies and supermarkets, assisting someone in need or for divorced parents to see their children. Visits to bookshops, hairdressers — both which will open on Monday — and pick up online purchases from shops will now be added.
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.