Greece has reopened restaurants, bars, cafes and resumed ferry services to its islands as it takes the first tentative steps out of lockdown before welcoming tourists in July.
The Mediterranean country has resumed regular ferry services to its islands on Monday as it presses ahead with efforts to revive its tourism season after closing restaurants and cafes on 13 March, and imposing a nationwide lockdown on 17 March. Arrivals are currently required to self-isolate for two weeks but that policy will be scrapped by 15 June and international flights to Greece will resume on 1 July.
Cafes, restaurants and bars with terraces also opened on Monday as Greece entered phase four of its lockdown deescalation plan, with businesses required to seat people in the open air and to space dining tables two metres apart. And some of the country's ancient open-air sites, like the Acropolis, have already begun welcoming visitors again. However, many museums and cultural attractions are expected to remain closed until next month.
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Greece has recorded one of Europe's lowest casualty rates of the pandemic and authorities put its relative success down to the early introduction of a strict lockdown, alongside high compliance from the public. As the initial wave ebbs, elements of normal life are trickling back slowly now, with Greece gearing up to accept tourists once again in July.
But new rules await international arrivals. The health ministry has ordered strict social distancing measures, while face masks are mandatory in public transport and crowded public spaces such as medical centres, shops and salons. Large groups and guided tours are still banned for now. And those breaking social distancing and face mask rules are subject to a fine of €150 ($162).
The beach experience is set to be different too, with ticketed entrances to record the number of guests. New rules stipulate that sun loungers are required to be 1.5 metres (five feet) apart and no more than 40 people are permitted per 1000 square metres of space. Beach bars are not permitted to play music or serve alcohol to make it easier to enforce the new rules, while in some beaches drones are tracking beachgoers to ensure social distancing is adhered to.