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Greece to allow hair salons, bookstores reopen for Christmas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece said on Friday it will allow hair salons and bookstores to reopen during the Christmas season but keep most other retail shops shut, continuing most restrictions until Jan. 7 to help stem the spread of coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks wait at a bus stop during a 24-hour general strike of Greek public sector workers, demanding hiring of doctors and other medical staff to fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the port of Piraeus, Greece November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Louiza Vradi

Schools, restaurants and courts will remain closed until Jan. 7, extending a lockdown the government imposed in November, its second this year, after an aggressive surge in COVID-19 infections.

In a televised briefing, government spokesman Stelios Petsas

said churches would open only for the Christmas and Epiphany masses on Dec. 25 and Jan. 6, with a limited number of worshippers.

Seasonal shops, selling only Christmas items, reopened on Monday. As Greek hospitals remain under pressure, other retail shops will remain closed for the public, Petsas said.

For the Dec. 14-Jan. 7 Christmas season only, people will be allowed to collect their orders from shops because courier companies were overloaded, he added.

Greece has registered 121,253 cases of the coronavirus and 3,370 deaths in total.

The country instituted its first nationwide lockdown soon after its first COVID-19 cases surfaced in February.

With an economy emerging after a decade-long debt crisis,

Greece was forced to reopen its vital tourism sector, its main

cash earner, during the peak summer season. It has seen a rapid

rise in cases since October, mainly in northern Greece.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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