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Greece: Protesters confront police in Athens amid 24-hour restaurants strike over COVID-19 measures

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Protesters confronted police in the streets of Athens, on Tuesday, as restaurants, bars and cafes went on strike in protest of newly introduced COVID-19 measures.

Protesters marching in the Greek capital were seen pushing against the shields of a line of police in riot gear.

A 24-hour strike was called by the Panhellenic Federation of Restaurant and Related Professions (POESE), a trade union that represents workers in the service and tourism industries. Protesters gathered at Syntagma Square and marched to the Finance Ministry building.

Under the new rules, introduced on Saturday, visitors of retail stores, banks, hair salons, and outdoor cafes and restaurants must provide a vaccination certificate, proof that they have recovered from COVID-19 or a negative rapid/PCR test result. Business owners in other cities have also joined the nationwide call for action.

“It is impossible to not take any measures, as people get sick everyday. And it is not our fault that there are so many unvaccinated people. This is the situation,” said Adonis Georgiadis, Minister for Development and Investment, as he spoke during an interview at the sidelines of the protest.

One protester countered, “while they (the government) have not applied any measures to relieve the terrible situation in public hospitals, they want us, restaurant owners, to become the police of our own shops. We will not allow that.”

POESE’s demands encompass a re-introduction of fines, financial support for rising energy and rent expenses for affected business owners, and a decrease of value-added tax (VAT) from 24 to 6 percent.

Greek health authorities reported 8,129 daily infections at the time of writing, as well as 80 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total death toll in the country to nearly 17,000.

#Athens #Greece

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