Many restaurants, cafes, and bars will be closed across Greece on Tuesday as workers in the service industry will be on strike.
The Panhellenic Federation of Restaurant & Related Professions (POESE), a trade union that represents workers in the service and tourism industries, and other workers’ groups, have called for the 24-hour strike.
They are striking for a number of reasons, including new coronavirus measures and government support for the restaurant industry, which has struggled during the pandemic.
Restaurant strike in Greece
In order to visit any indoor or outdoor dining area, including cafes, restaurants, and bars, patrons must now show either proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or a negative test result taken within 48 hours.
Restaurant owners state that the restrictions have caused a drastic reduction in business, and have also put their workers in a risky position, as they may have to deal with unruly customers who do not wish to show the required documentation.
According to POESE, business at bars, restaurants, and cafes in Greece has reduced by anywhere from 30% to 50% since the new measures took effect.
The list of requests released by POESE includes financial support from the state that mirrors that given at the start of the pandemic, as well as aid for rent and energy costs and a reduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate from 24% to 6%.
Labor union leaders stressed that the service industry was among the first to shut down and comply with anti-virus measures at the start of the pandemic, and that now, high rates of workers in the field are vaccinated.
“In comparison with other places that have crowds, like churches, fields, and public transit, the service industry has shown high vaccination rates, despite the cost and struggle of running such businesses,” the POESE said in a statement.
It is likely that Tuesday’s strike will be one of the largest in recent memory, with countless businesses taking part across the country.
New rules on Covid certificates in Greece
New rules were introduced last Saturday in Greece to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, focusing on restricting unvaccinated people from entry into retail stores, banks, hair salons, and outdoor cafes/restaurants without tests, and doubling the requirement for weekly tests at work.
Customers must present either a full-vaccination certificate, or a certificate of having recovered from Covid within the last six months, or negative rapid/PCR test results, in order to enter stores, including malls, hair and beauty salons and wellness businesses, outdoor areas of eateries, zoos, and entertainment areas.
The exceptions to this rule include pharmacies, churches, and supermarkets. In addition, young people aged 4 to 17 may provide negative self-tests as alternatives to the four certifications above.
People without tests may order goods by phone or online and physically pick up goods outside the store (curbside service).