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New rules increase public space for restaurants and cafes

Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos outlined the content of the legislation on restaurant seating on Monday.  In interviews with Mega TV and Skai TV the minister listed the new rules to be implemented in Greece’s catering businesses once they are open again amid the pandemic.

The new rules refer to increased public spaces cafes, bars and restaurants may use as the requirement to contain the pandemic oblige a distance of 2 meters between the tables.

These new rules are:

1. The stores that have a license to use public space have the option, in collaboration with the municipality, to double the amount of space they use to set out tables and seating.

2. If pedestrianization is possible, the municipalities will decide whether it should be done in cooperation with the police, but without additional construction or noise pollution.

3. The extra space will be given without charging additional municipal fees.

4. An essential condition for all the above will be to leave an open corridor for the passage of pedestrians (of at least 1.8m) and not obstruct the access or passage of people with disabilities.

5. In cases where additional space is not available, municipalities will have the option of lowering municipal fees by up to 50%.

“We are interested in opening businesses, preserving jobs and allowing turnover,” Theodorikakos said, stressing that in cases where rules are disregarded there will be fines in the first phase and a removal of licenses in subsequent stages.

The legislation will be submitted to Parliament on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

Cafes, bars and restaurants are originally scheduled to open again on June 1. The government has hinted that this may take place earlier depending on the course of the pandemic.

Speaking to ANT1 TV also on Monday, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said that “in the coming days, the results from the first phase of the gradual lifting of the measures will be evaluated and depending on the experts’ recommendations we will see if we can lift the rest of the measures earlier than currently scheduled.”

The final decisions are reportedly to be taken May 16-20 and the early opening can happen a week earlier, on May 25.

Goergiadis said that the planning for the organization of seating in restaurants and the minimum distances that must be observed has been completed. He expressed hope that restaurants can open again with 80% of their capacity.

Severely hit by the coronavirus crisis, the sector demands among others reduction on Value Added Tax.

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