Artists perform at the Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" in Athens, Greece, on May 25, 2020. Greece took more steps to normality on Monday, reopening restaurants and cafes while allowing travel to all the islands. Members of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Greece performed at the Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" to celebrate the day and greet travelers as the airport is getting prepared for the delayed tourism season this summer. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
ATHENS, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Greece took more steps to normality on Monday, reopening restaurants and cafes while allowing travel to all the islands.
Two months after the shutdown of the catering sector and the introduction of strict travel restrictions as part of the efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, Greeks queued at airports and ports wearing masks and keeping safe distances and are able to visit their favorite coffee shops and restaurants again.
Members of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Greece performed at the Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" to celebrate the day and greet travelers as the airport is getting prepared for the delayed tourism season this summer.
Until Monday, only a few international and domestic flights had been permitted.
The entire country was in lockdown from March 23 to May 4 and in the past three weeks the government has been gradually lifting preventive measures.
Retail shops and shopping malls have returned to business, middle and high school students have returned to classes and on June 1 primary schools will reopen along with hotels as social and economic activities in the last few sectors restart.
"I think that with the reopening of the catering sector, the atmosphere has changed," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said after strolling down commercial streets at the port of Piraeus on Monday, according to an e-mailed press statement issued by his office.
Mitsotakis spoke with shop owners and customers about how they were adapting to the new normality, which includes additional outdoor seats for restaurants and cafes and a limit of six seated customers per table.
"The danger is not permanently over," Mitsotakis said in an interview with local television STAR on Monday evening, urging Greeks and foreign visitors to continue observing health safety rules suggested by experts.
In his views, Greece's success in containing the virus so far lies, to an extent, to the timely implementation of measures.
"We had been following developments regarding the coronavirus in China since January... When we saw the first data of what was happening in Italy it was absolutely clear that Greece would not be spared in this pandemic," he said.
He explained that the government had a first response plan in place and took preventive measures starting with the cancellation of carnival festivities before the first case was confirmed in Greece on Feb. 26.
The prime minister expressed confidence that with this spring's experience Greece will be better prepared for a possible second wave in autumn.
Greek authorities have so far registered 2,882 confirmed COVID-19 infections, including 172 deaths, according to an e-mailed press release issued by the Health Ministry on Monday.
Since Sunday four new cases were reported and one death. Enditem