ATHENS

Greece entered its second phase of its gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions introduced in early March to contain the spread of the virus. 

The first phase the prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had announced started on May 4.

All retail stores closed since March will be reopened Monday with the exception of bigger stores like malls, restaurants and cafes that are due to open on June 1.

Senior high school students also returned to their classes on Monday.

The Health Ministry has ordered strict social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus.The use of masks is mandatory in public transport and crowded public spaces such as hospitals, medical centers, shops and hairdressing shops.

Retailers are allowed to let up to four customers in shops of up to 20 square metres (215 square feet), four people plus one for each additional 10 square metres in premises up to 100 square metres and 12 people plus one per additional 15 square metres for premises exceeding 100 square metres.

Those who enter the stores are required to maintain a 1.5-metre distance from others at all times.

Greece was one of the first European countries to order the closure of all schools, bars, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, malls, cinemas, retail stores, museums, archaeological sites, and hotels, and the received much praise for these measures.

The total number of COVID-19 cases recorded in the country stood at 2,716, the Health Ministry announced in a press briefing on Sunday, with the death toll at 151.

Οn Monday, the Greek police announced that 39 violations of minimum safety distance and face mask rules were recorded, each with a fine of €150 ($162).

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed over 283,100 worldwide, with total infections exceeding 4.12 million, while recoveries surpassed 1.42 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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