ATHENS (1) – Greeks flocked to the seaside on Saturday when greater than 500 beaches reopened, because the nation sought to stroll the effective line between defending individuals from COVID-19 whereas reviving the tourism sector that many rely on for his or her livelihoods.

Employees set up wood corridors on a seashore, a day earlier than the official opening of beaches to the general public following the easing of measures towards the unfold of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, Might 15, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

For a lot of in Greece, it was a primary foray into a giant public venue for the reason that nation started easing its lockdown earlier this month, and it additionally coincided with the primary heatwave of the yr.

Solar-seekers have been required to respect distancing guidelines, which even stipulated how far umbrellas should be stored apart.

Not more than 40 individuals have been allowed per 1,000 sq. metres (10,750 sq ft), whereas umbrella poles had to be 4 metres (13 ft) apart, with canopies no nearer than one metre, in accordance to a government-issued guide, full with diagram.

At Alimos, a preferred seashore simply south of Athens, individuals queued up from the early morning to nab their spot in the sunshine.

“That is the perfect factor for us aged … to come and chill out a bit after being locked in,” Yannis Tentomas, who’s in his 70s, mentioned as he settled down beneath an umbrella.

He mentioned he was complying with distancing guidelines, including: “It’s like a gun to the pinnacle.”

The supervisor of the seashore, Nikos Venieris, mentioned guests have been following the foundations up to now and he hoped they might proceed to accomplish that in the course of the summer season.

“We’re travelling an unknown street, and we don’t know the place it’s going to find yourself,” he added.

At a neighbouring seashore a drone buzzed over sun-loungers, with loudspeakers urging individuals to keep secure distances from one another.

The lifting of the lockdown comes as international locations round Europe and the world look to ease restrictions imposed to curb the pandemic, in an try to resurrect their economies.

‘TURNING POINT’

Greece has reported a fraction of the COVID-19 circumstances of neighbouring international locations – greater than 2,800 infections with 160 deaths. From Might 4, it started a phased-in easing of the lockdown that had been in place since mid-March.

The nation of 11 million individuals is likely one of the most dependent in Europe on tourism, which generates a few fifth of its financial output.

Following the reopening of Greek beaches, individuals will probably be permitted to attend Church Mass from Might 17, whereas archaeological websites, together with the Acropolis, will reopen for guests on Might 18. From Monday, journey throughout mainland Greece and to Crete will probably be allowed, and from Might 25 to the islands.

“It is a essential turning level in our efforts and we should succeed,” mentioned Nikos Hardalias, Greece’s civil safety minister.

Tourism officers say they hope to welcome again overseas holidaymakers in July.

Slideshow (eight Photos)

“The message is that Greece is a really secure and hospitable nation. We invite them and are ready for them to come, so long as they comply with the foundations,” Alimos Mayor Andreas Kondylis mentioned.

Greece’s lockdown, plus the shutdown of a lot of the world, and most air journey, is probably going to have a profound impact on a rustic solely simply beginning to get well from a decade of monetary turmoil and austerity.

Authorities anticipate something between a 5% and 10% decline in financial output this yr, earlier than recovering in 2021.

Reporting By Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by Michele Kambas; Modifying by Pravin Char