Greece

Authorities in Greece warned Tuesday that bars and restaurants could be shut down if they defy COVID-19 distancing rules following a jump in infections among young people, the Associated Press reported. Civil Protection chief Nikos Hardalias said one-week license suspensions will be imposed on businesses that serve standing customers or ignore capacity limits, followed by two-week and indefinite suspensions if the violations persisted. Fines will range from 2,000 to 10,000 euros ($2,360-11,800) depending on the size of the business and the number of previous infringements, he said.
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A group of creditors to Intralot SA agreed to provide almost 148 million euros ($177 million) to the beleaguered gaming company to pay off some of its bonds due September and sweeten the terms of a restructuring deal that’s been under negotiations for months, Bloomberg News reported. Under the new proposal, part of the 250 million euros of Intralot’s bonds maturing Sept. 15 would be paid out at par by a group of investors who’ve been discussing the deal with the company, according to a statement.
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Greece will get nearly twice as much funding than originally expected this year from the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, one of the country’s top economic advisers said on Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported. The country will receive some 7.5 billion euros ($9.1 billion) in 2021 from the fund, set up to help offset the economic effects of the pandemic, compared with an original figure of around 4 billion euros, Alex Patelis, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s chief economic adviser, said at the Athens Stock Exchange’s annual investment forum.
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The European Commission has approved an 800 million euro scheme by Greece, designed to support tourism companies which have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, Reuters reported. "They (the companies) have been hit hard by the pandemic, and this scheme will help ensure the continuity of their economic activity in these difficult times," Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of the European Union's competition policy, said in a statement on Tuesday.
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Greece has reopened to many overseas visitors, including from the U.S., jumping ahead of most of its European neighbors in restarting tourism, even as the country’s hospitals remain full and more than three-quarters of Greeks are still unvaccinated, the New York Times reported. It’s a big bet, but given the importance of tourism to the Greek economy — the sector accounts for one quarter of the country’s work force and more than 20 percent of gross domestic product — the country’s leaders are eager to roll out the welcome mat. And although the U.S.
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Greece says its tourism services will open on May 15 when a ban on travel between different regions of the country will also be lifted, the Associated Press reported. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the announcement in a televised address Wednesday, adding that restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen outdoor areas starting on May 3. Restrictions, many of which have been in effect since early November, will remain in place over Orthodox Easter on May 2. “Our goal is to have a safe Easter and a free summer. But one cannot undermine the other,” Mitsotakis said.
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Greece attracted bumper demand in its first sale of 30-year bonds since 2008, completing the country’s full return to debt markets, Bloomberg News reported. The nation drew in more than 26 billion euros ($31 billion) of orders for its 2.5 billion-euro sale via banks. That showed investors’ long-term confidence and appetite for a yield at nearly 2% that is the highest in the euro area. The demand, just shy of a record set earlier this year, allowed Greece to cut pricing by 10 basis points from initial guidance.
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Greek banks, among Europe’s weakest, are getting rid of their bad loans at a healthy clip. In spring, the pandemic interrupted plans among the country’s banks to shed loans still festering from the eurozone crisis a decade ago, The Wall Street Journal reported. But stimulus from central banks and governments globally has sent fresh cash into funds that buy non-performing loans, reinvigorating the efforts.

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The Greek government's opposition is trying to block new insolvency legislation that it argues would leave vulnerable mortgage holders more exposed to repossession during the pandemic, Yahoo! Finance reported. The conservative government is overhauling its bankruptcy regulations, replacing a protection program for distressed loans on primary homes, which expired in July, with a state subsidy program. The government says the proposed changes would be better targeted and would ease pressure on banks still coping with a mountain of loans left unpaid during years of financial crisis.

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Greece is the most vulnerable country in the Eurozone to a shock to tourism says DBRS Morningstar, Capital reported. According to the latest forecasts by DBRS, the recession in Greece this year will reach 7%, while the recovery in 2021 is expected to reach 4%. According to the DBRS’ adverse scenario, the contraction of the Greek GDP this year will come to 9% and growth in 2021 will move at a subdued rate of 1.5%.

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