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Restaurants, bars closed in Greece to protest government's COVID-19 measures17 November 2021

New rules restrict unvaccinated people from entering retail stores, banks, hair salons, restaurants without COVID-19 tests

Restaurants, bars and cafes in Greece went on strike on Tuesday to protest the government's new coronavirus measures, which have negatively affected the country's food and beverage industry.

A 24-hour strike was called by the Panhellenic Federation of Restaurant and Related Professions (POESE), a trade union that represents workers in the service and tourism industries.

The business owners gathered in the capital Athens' Syntagma Square, and marched to the nearby Finance Ministry building.

The new rules, introduced on Saturday, restrict unvaccinated people from entering retail stores, banks, hair salons, and outdoor cafes/restaurants without COVID-19 tests.

Customers must produce a full-vaccination certificate, or a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 within the last six months, or negative rapid/PCR test results, to enter retailers, malls, hair and beauty salons, outdoor areas of eateries, zoos, and entertainment areas.

Pharmacies, churches, and supermarkets are exceptions to this law. People who do not have tests may make purchases over the phone or online and pick them up outside the store.

In a statement, POESE bemoaned the government's handling of COVID-19, which has caused financial difficulties for the two sectors.

According to POESE, the country's food and beverage industry has shrunk by about 50% since the latest round of measures went into effect, amid a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

The federation urged the government to re-regulate business-owner fines, provide financial support for rising energy and rent expenses, and lower value-added tax (VAT) from 24% to 6%.

Government aid is critical for the survival of businesses in the service industry, which employ thousands of people, according to the statement.

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