Greece’s taverns, coffee shops close due to pandemic protest

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Associations representing restaurants and catering companies in Greece organized strikes and protests across the country on Tuesday to seek renewed financial relief from the government due to the effects of the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Usually, busy restaurants, coffee shops, bars and traditional tavernas in Athens remained closed with chairs facing outdoor tables, including in the historic Plaka district of the Greek capital.

Protesters in the northern city of Thessaloniki placed an empty coffin outside a government building while marchers carried black balloons in the southern port of Patras. Short clashes erupted during a demonstration in central Athens as police stopped protesters blocking traffic near the prime minister’s official residence.

Greece is currently reporting its highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases of the pandemic and the highest COVID-19 mortality in six months. The government reintroduced some restrictions targeting the approximately one-third of the population who remain unvaccinated.

The Greek health authorities reported a daily record for new cases with 8,129 infections recorded in 24 hours. They also reported 80 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total death toll in the country from about 11 million to nearly 17,000.

Government public health advisers have recommended tighter capacity limits for businesses and other measures to control infections. Officials will decide later in the week whether to implement the recommendations.

As part of the intensified measures, private doctors may be required to work for the public health service to cover staff shortages.

Giorgos Kavathas, the leader of Greece’s largest association of small businesses, said companies are seeking tax breaks and rent subsidies from the government.

“We support public health measures, but we also need help,” he told state-run television. “Let us not forget that in the last 20 months, catering companies have been closed for at least nine, and others without outdoor customer seats were closed for 12 months. The money that was lost will never be recovered, so it is clear that we need to have a serious discussion. ”

___ Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos and Stavrakis at https://twitter.com/TStavrak

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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