Greece gradually lifting 42-day lockdown

Commuters wearing protective face masks stand on a platform of the metro station on Syntagma square, on the first day of easing of a nationwide lockdown against the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, May 4, 2020. (REUTERS)

Greece has begun gradually lifting its restrictive measures after a 42-day lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

As of Monday morning, Greeks are no longer restricted as to why they can leave their homes, and don't need to send an SMS or carry a self-written permit justifying being outdoors.

The first businesses have also opened as part of what authorities have said will be a staggered re-opening of the economy. Hair salons, barber shops and stores selling books, sporting goods, stationary, and other items can now open, albeit with strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place.

Masks are now compulsory for staff and passengers on public transport, staff in shops selling fresh food and in several other places, with violators facing fines. Authorities strongly recommend mask-wearing in all indoor public areas.

School students in the final grade of high school are to return to class as of next week, followed later in the month by those in the rest of junior high and high school grades.

Greece's government imposed a lockdown early in the country's outbreak, which has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and critically ill at low levels. Greece has reported nearly 150 virus deaths and over 2,500 infections. Almost 80,000 tests had been carried out as of Sunday.

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