Retail sector reps say new restrictions will harm stores ahead of holidays

Retail store and trade representatives said the government’s announcement on Tuesday to require rapid tests for entering stores is impractical and adds more of a burden to the sector.

“From the start of the pandemic, the retail sector has met economic and health challenges very seriously, observing closely all health protocols,” Athens Trade Association president Stavros Kafounis said.

“We have also agreed that the sector never served as a hub of spreading Covid-19, and nobody has cast doubt on the safe environment within stores. Therefore, the demand that employees check customers at the stores is impractical and will unfortunately prove detrimental to the economic environment, during a time when optimism is returning to the market,” he said.

Adding his concern after the measures were announced was president of the Greek Confederation of Trade and Entrepreneurship Giorgos Karanikas, who said the measures came as the market entered the holiday season.

“For more than 1.5 years, the trade world is doing whatever possible to contribute to the control of the pandemic. It shouldered painful lockdowns with zero returns for a long time, expecting a return to ‘normalcy’ that is constantly being postponed,” he said.

Having to show a rapid test result to enter the stores will stop people from going, Karanikas warned, while “the use of supermarkets and open markets to everyone – vaccinated or not – without any control and restrictions creates a direct issue of unfair competition against retailers.”

In addition, he said, the measure “raises valid questions about the effectiveness of containing the pandemic.”