Skip to main content




No cafes, no tourists: COVID-19 empties streets of old Athens

No cafes, no tourists: COVID-19 empties streets of old Athens

A man walks in the Plaka district of Athens past closed coffee shop and restaurants during a lockdown order by the Greek government to avoid the spread of the coronavirus in Athens. (Photo: AP/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS: It’s been a while since visitors to Greece sought out souvenirs in Athens’ oldest neighborhood.

The winding streets of Plaka, laid out long before the city imported a grid system, are lined with closed stores behind aluminum shutters. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept tourists away from the historic city center that forms a semi-circle around the Acropolis, and the area remained unusually devoid of pedestrians and motorists before Christmas.

A man sleeps on a street outside shuttered shops in the Monastiraki district of Athens during lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, on Monday, April 27, 2020. (Photo: AP/Petros Giannakouris)

In their absence, ancient monuments are a little easier to make out from a distance, fewer horns are sounding in traffic and homeless cats parked in front of cafes are a little less aloof.

Greece so far has imposed two nationwide lockdowns since the start of the pandemic. 

The first, in the spring, kept the country’s infection rates low. Authorities ordered the second in response to a rapid post-summer rise in reported cases and as of Christmas Eve has seen 4,4,57 confirmed virus-related deaths.

The restrictions have closed bars, restaurants, coffee shops and many other businesses considered non-essential but which make up a large slice of Greece’s tourism-dependent economy.

The number of visitors traveling to the country plummeted 76.1 per cent during the first 10 months of 2020 compared to a year earlier. Spending sank 77 per cent, according to central bank data released this week.

Greece is expected to see a 10.5 per cent contraction of its gross domestic product this year compared to the forecasted EU average of 7.4 per cent, while its debt-to-GDP ratio is set to surge to a staggering 208.9 per cent.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak:

Source: AP


Also worth reading