Expats in Greece fear early lockdown easing is too risky

Published:  28 May at 6 PM
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Expats in Greece are both relieved and concerned as the coronavirus restrictions are partially lifted.

Greece has now entered its phase four, lifting lockdowns on restaurants and bars and allowing domestic travel to recommence a week earlier than promised. Although the country and its famous islands aren’t a major European destination for British would-be expats, it’s still popular with tourists as well as retirees on reconnaissance trips. Whilst its initial lockdown covered just about everything from staying in and social distancing to every aspect of life, its loosening is important to the local culture as Greeks are never happier than when they’re socialising with friends at a favourite café, bar or restaurant.

It’s a lifestyle which is also very popular with British expats, meaning many were feeling excess stress after being confined to their homes. Even so, the loosening of regulations isn’t exactly ‘business as usual’, as customers must still sit on the terraces of bars and eateries or on the pavement rather than at tables inside. Screens are now set up at cash registers and employees must wear masks and gloves. Hotels are due to open two weeks from now, and travellers from countries with approved epidemiological data will be allowed to enter the country, although random testing is to be put in place.

Although the above is good news for the country’s economy, expats and locals living on the country’s famous islands are fearing the government is moving a little too fast. The pandemic has hardly touched the islands, with Crete showing just 57 confirmed cases, but a recent survey revealed most of the respondents would avoid restaurants and traditional cafes for the foreseeable future. One British expat couple told reporters they’d love for things to go back to normal, but are worried about tourists arriving as early as the middle of June.
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