ATHENS: Greece will ease some COVID-19 lockdown curbs to relieve peoples' fatigue with protracted restrictions, allowing small retail shops to reopen, authorities said on Wednesday (Mar 31) as the surge of COVID-19 infections continues.
"We acknowledge the psychological fatigue, but the pandemic is continuing to show its teeth not allowing further relaxation, just small breaths of freedom," Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said.
Effective from Apr 5 small retail shops will reopen for business under so-called click-away and click-in-shop modes, meaning consumers will need to make appointments and comply with a three-hour limit for shopping.
Retailers cannot allow more than one customer per 25 square metres inside their stores. The measure excludes shopping malls and department stores which will remain closed.
The government also eased curbs restricting peoples' movement beyond their municipality. Effective from Saturday people will be able to drive beyond the limits of their municipality to exercise or get a breath of fresh air.
"The virus variants are more transmissible than before. We are experiencing huge pressure on our hospital system, especially in the metropolitan Athens area," Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said.
On Wednesday Greece reported 3,616 new COVID-19 infections and 76 related deaths, bringing total infections to 263,689 and COVID-related deaths to 8,093.
After faring better than many European countries in the first wave last year, infections are on the rise, hitting record levels this week with hospitals under severe stress despite five months of lockdown and some progress with vaccinations.