ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece reopened the Acropolis, museums and other major tourist attractions as the coronavirus lockdown eased in bright sunshine in Athens on Monday.
Quarantine restrictions are gradually being lifted — access to beaches was allowed on Saturday amid a heatwave and churches welcomed worshippers on Sunday.
“I visited the Acropolis today, a world monument that continues to inspire with its marbles shining under the sun,” Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said after a walk at the ancient ruins, one of the most visited tourist sites in the world.
Workers wearing masks and plastic face shields were on site to inform the few foreign tourists of the social distancing regulations, which require visitors to remain 1.5 metres apart.
Greece, which has contained the spread of COVID-19 infections with 2,834 cases and 163 deaths reported as of Sunday, began a gradual easing of lockdown measures on May 4.
Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said the government wanted to open archaeological sites that are safe for people to visit.
“Greece has won credibility from the way it handled the coronavirus crisis. It is a valuable achievement that will allow us a dynamic opening of the tourism season,” she said in a statement.
People will be allowed to travel freely in the mainland and to the country’s two largest islands, Crete and Evia, and shopping malls and zoos also reopened on Monday along with sports facilities for those aged over 13.
Social distancing rules must be respected and wearing masks is recommended, but not mandatory except on public transport.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Vassilis Triandafyllou, editing by Ed Osmond)