Greece to reopen shops despite high COVID-19 rate
Civil protection deputy minister Nikos Hardalias said all retail outlets except department stores and malls would reopen from Monday. Picture: pixabay. ATHENS, Greece - Greece on Wednesday said it would reopen most shops and relax leisure restrictions despite persistently high COVID-19 deaths and infections that have put its health system under major strain.Civil protection deputy […]

Civil protection deputy minister Nikos Hardalias said all retail outlets except department stores and malls would reopen from Monday.

Picture: pixabay.

ATHENS, Greece - Greece on Wednesday said it would reopen most shops and relax leisure restrictions despite persistently high COVID-19 deaths and infections that have put its health system under major strain.

Civil protection deputy minister Nikos Hardalias said all retail outlets except department stores and malls would reopen from Monday.

Travel by car will also be permitted for short distances during weekends, for families or groups of up to three people for exercise or outdoor activities, he told a news conference.

By allowing people to "decompress" outside their homes as the weather improves, the government hoped to reap the benefits at a "health, social and economic" level, Hardalias said.

The announcement came as Greece recorded 76 coronavirus-related deaths and over 3,600 new infections over the last 24 hours.

Greece has so far registered more than 260,000 coronavirus cases and 8,093 deaths since the start of the pandemic. More than 700 people are in intensive care.

A firm backer of European vaccine passports, Greece is hoping to kickstart its tourism season from mid-May onwards to claw back some badly needed revenue.

Greek health workers have so far carried out more than 1.6 million vaccinations, with more than 580,000 people having already received a second dose.

Greece expects to spend some 11.6 billion euros ($14 billion) this year to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on its economy, on top of 24 billion euros spent in 2020.

The Greek budget forecasts economic growth of 4.8 percent, scaled back from an earlier 7.5-percent estimate owing to the ongoing lockdown, imposed in November.

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