Greece's tavernas, coffee shops close for pandemic protest

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Associations representing restaurants and catering businesses in Greece are holding strikes and work stoppages across the country Tuesday, seeking renewed financial relief from the government due to the effects of the pandemic.

Normally busy restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and traditional tavernas in Athens were shuttered with chairs flipped onto outdoor tables ahead of a planned protest in the capital.

Greece is currently reporting its highest daily number of confirmed COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic and the highest rate of death in six months, prompting the government to re-impose some restrictions that target roughly a third of the country’s population that remains unvaccinated.

Public health advisors to the government are backing tougher capacity restrictions for businesses, and officials are due to decide on whether to implement the proposals later this week.

Giorgos Kavathas, leader of Greece’s largest small business association, said demands from the government included tax breaks and rent subsidies.

“We support the public health measures but we also need assistance,” he told state run television. “Let’s not forget that in the last 20 months, catering businesses were closed for at least nine and others without outdoor customer spaces were closed for 12 months. The money that was lost will never be regained so clearly we need to have a serious discussion.”


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