Bars face closure for serving standing customers

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — 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.

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.

The measures, which start Thursday, will also impact tourist resorts on the Greek islands and elsewhere where there have been frequent reports of overcrowding.

Greece is anxious to restart its vital tourism industry, which accounts for about a fifth of annual economic output, while at the same time avoiding a major surge in new infections.

Hardalias said there had been a “rapid surge in infections” among young people, noting that nearly a third of new cases are believed to have originated from crowded outdoor gatherings.

Greece ended the mandatory outdoor use of face masks on June 24, but the mandate remains in effect for a