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Greece promises more support for businesses as stores reopen

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ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will provide more financial assistance to businesses hit by coronavirus restrictions in April, the finance minister said on Monday, as stores reopened despite a growing number of issues putting heavy pressure on services. health.

Last week the government announced easing some restrictions to alleviate widespread blockage fatigue, allowing small retail stores selling non-essential goods to reopen, under so-called far-off and click-to-purchase methods.

Under the rules, customers will have to make appointments and adhere to a three-hour limit on purchases, and retailers cannot allow more than one customer per 25 square feet.

The measure excludes shopping malls and shops in the Athens area which will remain closed and in three regions with severe levels of infection, including the large northern city of Thessaloniki, shops will remain closed.

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 been put under great pressure as case numbers have risen this year.

The blockade 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 in financial markets will enable the government to help.

The 130m-euro ($ 150m) package would help about 100,000 businesses, including about 10,800 retailers, with financial assistance ranging from 1,000-4,000 euros, depending on the number of employees employed, Staikouras said.

“We are using funds raised from markets in recent months to support businesses and households,” he said.

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

(Report by George Georgiopoulos; Edited by Giles Elgood)

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