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sobota, 16 januarja, 2021

String of stores and services reopening as lockdown eases

In a major sign of the easing of the coronavirus epidemic and the lockdown restrictions associated with it, a string of retail and services establishments shut down five weeks ago will reopen on Monday.

DIY stores, car showrooms, stores selling bicycles, technical goods and furniture, dry cleaners and some repair shops, including tyre replacement shops are resuming their operations.

Between 8am and 9:30am the stores will be open for vulnerable groups of shoppers only, i.e. persons with disabilities, pregnant women and those above the age of 65.

Like in grocery stores, the latter group will not be able to do their shopping outside the dedicated opening hours.

The government also allowed the reopening of services performed outdoors such as gardening services, roof and facade work, and takeaways involving minimum contact with customers.

Outdoor sports and recreational grounds such as tennis courts and golf courses are also reopening for activities that do not involve close contact.

The government has also allowed resumption of annual vehicle roadworthiness tests and other procedures associated with registration of motor vehicles.

However, there is no rush, since the validity of vehicle registration certificates has been extended until 16 June.

As a growing number of businesses reopen, passenger transport organised by business subjects or local communities to bring employees to work and back has been allowed too.

The number of passengers is limited to up to a third of the seating capacity. Passengers and drivers will need to wear masks and wait to enter the vehicle while keeping a safety distance of two metres.

Protective measures remain in force for all stores, including the obligatory wearing of masks or some other face coverings, hand sanitising, airing of premises and allowing 20 square metres per customer.

The government imposed a temporary ban on most retail establishments in mid March to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

Only grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, post offices, petrol stations, news stands and stores selling agricultural products remained open until pet food shops were added to the exemptions from 21 March and florist shops and nurseries from 3 April, along with construction works not involving contacts with customers.

Yet more services will be available from 4 May, with the reopening of hair salons, beauty parlours, dog and cat grooming salons and shops of up to 400 m2 sales space, except for those in shopping centres.

Further easing of measures is expected after the results are in of a comprehensive random testing of the population for coronavirus starting today.

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