Hundreds of young people flooded the streets of iconic Psyrri area in the historical center of Athens outside bars selling take away drinks in plastic cups. They enjoyed a late spring Saturday night without masks or gloves and fairly ignored the safety distance of 1.5-2 meters as recommended by health authorities to prevent the spread of the virus.
The “open party” and and the “nice” crowding took place just hours before cafes, bars and restaurants open again on Monday, following a two-month lockdown.
It is not just the youth, though, that can’t be tamed. Parents allow their children to play outside shut down playgrounds, elderly catch up with others and dog owners chat with fellows in neighborhood squares. Twice a day, our little square is full of people who form small to medium groups enjoying time outside their homes. The surrounding cafes do not allow customers to sit and sell only take away coffee and beverages.
Crowding will ease once cafes, bars and restaurants will open again, is the general view.
Video: Restaurant in Chania, Crete preparing to open again
Business owners are zealously preparing for the grande re-opening with thorough cleaning, disinfection, arrangement of tables and chairs in their outdoors spaces according to the distance rules and training personnel to work in the new coronavirus reality.
However, not all of the businesses will open again.
Three in ten cafes or restaurants might not open on Monday, Nikos Nifoudis, of the Thessaloniki Catering Initiative told state-run news agency amna.
Only about 2,000 such businesses in the municipality of Thessaloniki are licensed to place tables and seats outdoors, he said. He added that some of these businesses are likely to continue to operate with take-away only and observe how similar businesses will fare in coming days.
“The sector is very anxious to see how returning to business will play out,” Nifoudis stressed, “because no one can predict how confident customers are to return to cafes and restaurants, while the running costs of any such establishment remains high regardless of serving ten or fifty customers at any one time,” he added.
Another concern that perplexes owners in the broader catering sector is the reduced spending power many people might be facing as a result of the pandemic, he underlined.
Cafes and restaurants will open with some restrictions in place, including a distance of between 70 cm to 1.7 meters between seats and a maximum of six seated customers.
Deputy Minister of Development & Investments Nikos Papathanassis said on Saturday evening that indoor spaces will not be allowed to customers before the first half of June.
On Monday, May 25, Greece proceeds with the fourth phase of lifting of the restrictions with re-opening of the catering sectors and allowing again travel to the islands, however, with health protocols and questionnaires.