Greece looks to post-Covid era with tourism, economy plans

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has outlined the government’s plan to support the economy, labor, and the tourism sector affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown imposed for six weeks in the country.

During a televised address to the nation, he congratulated the Greek people for the maturity and discipline they showed to help control the spread of the virus and protect public health, before unlocking the government’s program to support households and businesses.

He stressed the need to work harder in the coming months to turn this period into a bridge leading to growth again in 2021.

“I never hide that the fight for life will have a heavy impact on the economy. All over the world the cost is already huge,” he said.

Mitsotakis announced that the package measures totaling 24 billion euros (26.4 billion U.S dollars) will be split into three parts: labor support, tax cuts, and entrepreneurship boost.

Earlier this spring the government announced the first set of measures, which is later expanded.

The government will subsidize a portion of wages for employees in sectors hit by the crisis through European Union funds, to support employment, the Greek leader said on Wednesday.

Regarding the tax cuts, they include a reduction of VAT from 24 percent to 13 percent in public transport tickets, in coffee and non-alcoholic beverages, and open-air cinemas from June 1 until Oct. 31 this year.

Mitsotakis also announced additional tax relief measures for businesses.

Regarding the tourism sector, a vital sector for the Greek economy for decades, the season will officially open on June 15, he said, while international direct flights will start on July 1. Health officials will conduct sample coronavirus tests at the airport.

“As we won the fight for health, so we will win the war for the economy,” the Greek prime minister noted in his message, before a press briefing with ministers giving more details on the government’s plan.

Greece was in full lockdown from March 23 until May 4, when the government started to gradually lift restrictive measures and the country started to return to normalcy.

On Wednesday, Greece’s Health Ministry announced one new death and 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of fatalities to 166 and the total cases to 2,850 in the country since the first infection was diagnosed on Feb. 26. (1 euro= 1.1 U.S. dollars)