| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Greece promises more funding for companies as shops reopen

Greece will provide more financial assistance to companies impacted by coronavirus restrictions in April, according to the finance minister, as stores reopened amid increasing case numbers straining health services.

Last week the government announced the easing of some restrictions to relieve widespread lockdown fatigue, allowing small retail shops selling non-essential goods to reopen, under so-called click-away and click-in-shopping modes.

Under the rules, consumers will need to make appointments and comply with a three-hour limit for shopping and retailers cannot allow more than one customer per 25 square meters.

The measure excludes shopping malls and department stores in the Athens district, which will remain closed, as well as three regions with high levels of infection, including Thessaloniki, the country’s largest city in the north.

Greece handled the first wave of the pandemic last year better than many other countries in Europe but its health services, weakened by a decade of financial crisis, have come under heavy pressure as case numbers have surged this year.

Lockdown measures imposed in November have caused growing discontent and left many businesses struggling to survive but Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said Greece’s ability to borrow on financial markets would enable the government to help.

According to Staikouras, the 130 million euro ($150 million) package would assist about 100,000 companies, including 10,800 retailers, with financial assistance ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 euros, depending on the number of employees.

“Funds received from markets in recent months are being used to help businesses and households,” he said.

On Sunday, Greece reported 1,955 new COVID-19 infections and 78 deaths, taking the total number of infections and COVID-related deaths to 275,414 and 8,380, respectively.

  • Reuters