Greece’s committee of experts meeting on Wednesday has suggested that the country lift coronavirus restrictions and allow restaurants and cafes to open earlier than expected, on May 3rd.
The government advisory committee decided the best course of action is to open restaurants and cafes, with protective measures in place, on Easter Monday, May 3rd.
Cafes and restaurants will be allowed to open on May 3rd with restrictions, the experts say. Restrictions will include having outside tables only, as well as limiting the number of people who can sit at a single table.
Restaurants, cafes in Greece open in time for tourists
The reopening of restaurants and cafes fits the country’s schedule for the beginning of the tourist season.
Greece lifted its quarantine requirements on Monday, as the country reopened for American, British, EU, UAE, Serbian and Israeli travelers who either are vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19, or can show a negative PCR test upon arrival.
This soft opening of the tourism sector is expected to help authorities in identifying policy gaps and omissions ahead of the official launch of the 2021 tourism season on May 14, when the travel ban is scheduled to be lifted for visitors and residents alike.
For the time being, however, travelers to Greece will need to follow the same restrictions that apply to residents, such as the nightly curfew and the limited travel between regions.
Greece reopens for US travelers for the first time in a year
Under current rules, all other foreigners than those mentioned above who arrive in Greece must test negative and quarantine for seven days.
These first few travelers who will be exempt from the quarantine rules, as part of the kickoff of Greece’s “Green Initiative”, must arrive either through the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, or through two distinct border crossings.
This is the first time in more than a year that the travel ban will be lifted for US travelers, who have been excluded from entering Greece since March of 2020.
Coronavirus restrictions and Greek Easter
Curfews will be altered during Holy Week, giving residents an additional hour of free movement, from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. After Easter Monday, the curfew is expected to be loosened further, up to 11:00 PM.
However, the government is standing firm on the restriction of movement during Easter, as inter-regional travel will to continue to be banned.
Infectious disease specialists are also recommending that up to two households can celebrate Easter together, with the number of individuals allowed depending on where celebrations occur.
A cap of nine people is suggested for indoor Easter dining, whereas outdoor gatherings can have up to twelve individuals present.
The country’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is expected to make an announcement regarding Easter gatherings and the resumption of outdoor dining within the next few days.
Schools and shops open in Greece, along with restaurants
Using the help of the Greek free coronavirus self-testing system, middle and elementary schools are expected to open for in-person instruction once again on May 10th.
Shops are also expected to have their restrictions loosened by May 5th. Experts are suggesting shops can resume more typical operations at that time, with appointments no longer being required to shop and no need for customers to send an SMS.
According to current coronavirus restrictions in Greece, citizens can either shop with “click-away,” or curbside pickup, or with “click in shop,” which involves making purchases inside of the store. Both require a prior appointment to shop, however.
Those going to the stores can send only one message to shop each day — and they can only make their purchases for three hours.
In order to maintain social distancing, stores are allowed to host one customer per 25 square meters (269 square feet), with a maximum of 20 shoppers in total.