ATHENS, Greece — Silence has replaced the low hum of conversation and the clink of glasses that pervaded the sidewalk cafes across Athens. Their chairs and tables, once occupied throughout the day and deep into the night, stand stacked in empty piles, some secured by chains.
Retail stores opened briefly during the Christmas holidays, with social distancing measures in place, and starting Monday will be allowed to reopen to customers on an appointment basis. But the restaurants, bars and cafes, which by nature gather groups of people closely together, will enter their sixth month of being shut except for take away or delivery service..
While state subsidies such as rent coverage, loans, tax reductions and paid employee furlough schemes are available, the formula hasn’t worked for all business owners.
Panteris said the business has lost about 30,000 euros ($35,000) since the start of the pandemic. Business owners hope for more substantial government support to retain employees and keep their establishments alive. Greece sank back into recession last year due to the pandemic and accompanying lockdown measures.
“It’s hard to make predictions about the course of the business in the middle of such an unstable environment,” Panteris said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Greece has reported more than 263,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 8,000 virus-related deaths. The country of around 11 million people so far has administered 1.7 million vaccine doses, with over 600,000 people fully vaccinated with two shots.