We are bringing you an overview of how is Greece tackling the Coronavirus Crisis from legal perspective. The overview has been prepared for you in cooperation with our Greek Partner Law Firm.
The most important emergency measures have been adopted via legislative decisions on March 11 and 20, 2020, along with the mutual decisions of the Ministers of Development and Investment and Labour and Social Affairs.
While fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greek government has adopted strict measures aiming to stop the spreading of the virus, which have led to restriction of the free movement across border, free movement in the public and of the freedom of assembly. Starting on March 19, 2020, all public events and gatherings with more than 10 persons present at the same time have been forbidden with a fine up to €150 for failure to comply.
On March 23, 2020, a state-wide curfew was announced, with the exception of necessary travels to and from work, pharmacy, doctor’s, grocery shopping, walking the pets, outside sports activities and helping the people in need. The weddings and funerals were still permitted (only up to 10 people present at one moment).
Educational institutions, state and private institutions, as well as museums, theatres, courts, cinemas, sport studios, clubs, pitches, archeological sites, tourist accommodation establishments and commercial stores were closed. Only supermarkets, food stores, banks, pharmacies, opticians, gas stations, auto services and bike shops remained open.
Under the terms of these measures the Greek government has appealed to the people to limit the social contact among themselves. Many employers have elected on their own to adopt home office for their employees, so that they could continue working while not being physically present in the workspace.
Due to reasons related to the pandemic, new work conditions have been introduced. The employers whose establishments had to be closed and whose employees could not work from home, were allowed to suspend the employment agreements for the time of the mandatory closure of their enterprise. The employer couldn’t have terminated the job and was obliged to maintain the same number of employees for the time of the suspension of the employment agreement.
The enterprises, whose operation was temporarily suspended due to the adopted government measures and employees of these enterprises, whose employment agreements were suspended, were allowed to pay only 60 per cent of the rent (they were relieved from payment of 40 per cent of the rent payable for the months in question).
The Ministry of Finance has promised an immediate financial help to the affected enterprises. Starting on March 18, 2020, the Greek government has announced an introduction of various measures aiming to boost the economy, e.g. refundable deposits. In order to support small businesses the independent Office for Public Income has in accordance with a ministerial decision established a digital platform „myBusinessSupport,“ which helps small and medium businesses. The refundable deposits have been paid to the businesses directly without the involvement of banks. The support in the form of refundable deposits had been provided up to June 30, 2020 and should ensure the ability to operate of small and medium businesses after the coronavirus crisis.
The affected enterprises which have suffered a loss as a result of the pandemic could have received a loan up to the 25 per cent of their yearly revenue starting from May. For example, a company with a yearly revenue of EUR 100,000, who sought to receive a loan in the amount of EUR 25,000, has received 80 per cent of this amount from the Ministry for Development.
The affected businesses can also suspend fulfillment of their tax and insurance obligations till the end of July without any interests on late payments or fines. Full social security of the employees was for 45 days paid by the state on the basis of their nominal wage.
All court proceedings were in Greece from March 14 to April 27 put on hold and most of legal disputes and judgements was therefore postponed. Almost all procedural time limits were put on hold. During the period of the effect of the government measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus all insolvency and execution proceedings were also halted.
As with the other European countries, Greece started to lift the crisis measures in the beginning of May.
The Article was prepared in cooperation with Mrs. Vicky Athanassoglou – an attorney with her seat in Athens, 4 Karagiorgi Servias 4, Greece and in Düsseldroft, Prinz-Georg-Str. 91, Germany. See more on www.vaplaw.eu.