Greek restaurants and cafes reopened their terraces on Monday after a six-month pandemic closure, with customers flocking to soak up the sun and return to “normal life.”
“Today, I feel alive again, as if I had been resurrected,” joked Andreas Riminiotis, a retiree enjoying the ambiance of Da Capo cafe in Athens.
“Before the cafes closed in November, I used to come here every day to drink coffee and talk with my friends. It was my favorite way to pass the time, the cure for all ailments, ”he said, adding that he welcomed a chance to return to“ normal life ”.
The reopening was all the more poignant and joyful as it took place a day after Orthodox Christians in Greece celebrated Easter, when believers mark the resurrection of Christ.
Greece has been subject to Covid-19 restrictions – including a curfew of varying severity – since November.
The third wave of the pandemic has hit Greece particularly hard, with the majority of the nearly 10,000 virus deaths in the country occurring in recent months.
Non-essential businesses and schools reopened in early April.
On Monday, the outdoor terraces of the capital’s trendy Kolonaki district filled with customers.
“I haven’t worked for six months,” said Yannis Karagiannakis, a waiter. “I was going around in circles, I was depressed. “
It is estimated that around 330,000 people work in the catering sector in Greece and on Monday only cafes and restaurants with terraces were allowed to reopen.
He added that the Covid-19 pandemic had forced the closure of dozens of establishments in Athens and Thessaloniki and that dozens more were at risk of going bankrupt.
Cafes that reopen on Mondays must adhere to the following guidelines – a maximum of six people per table, waiters wearing masks and testing once a week.
A 11:00 p.m. curfew is still in effect in the country.
Greece, whose economy relies heavily on tourism, has stepped up its vaccination campaign ahead of the summer season, with people over 30 currently eligible for the vaccine.
The country currently has some 345,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 10,400 deaths in a population of 10.8 million.
© 2021 AFP