The Greeks are taking measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus as much as any European country. Although logistics might prove difficult, the expectation is that the fruit and vegetable sector will keep going, just as the general food sector will.
Greece has also been dealing with the coronavirus over the past few weeks, but the people so far have responded calmly, says Christina Manossis, of Zeus Kiwi S.A. “The COVID-19 virus is present in Greece as well. As of today, Wednesday the 18th of March, almost 350 people have been infected and five people have lost their lives to it, mainly in the Attiki region and Peloponese. We can see a shift in mentality, as people act more cautiously and self-consciously by staying home. But there is no panic.”
For the industry, help has been promised by the government, in the form of suspending any financial obligations and assisting the workers who have to stay at home: “The Greek government has been handling the situation very effectively. Rules and bans have been applied at an early stage, hopefully we will be able to see the good results of this decision-making within the next couple of weeks. All fiscal, or any other obligation has been suspended, that means that companies face no penalties if loans, taxes, or any other obligations are not met during this period of crisis,” Manossis explained. “The government is also partly funding workers who have to stay at home to take care of their children. They also announced that extra help will be provided to companies that have been hit by the virus crisis.”
As for Zeus as a company, they’ve had to take some measures to protect the safety of the workforce. “We have adopted severe procedures in what regards the safety of our workers. Apart from the 3-times-a day disinfection made during the working hours, we also outsource disinfection services every other day to ensure all areas are safe. Before any shift begins, we have appointed a person to control workers one by one measuring their temperature, good hand cleaning and the use of safety protection means like masks and gloves. We have workers packing at a distance of 1.5 meters from one another and the lunch break has been split into smaller groups. We’re doing our utmost to increase safety for our workers’ health and we’ll continue to work on that, by adopting new rules that will protect the public health.”
Manossis doesn’t see the situation changing any time soon, which means importers and exporters have no choice but to deal with the effects of the virus: “It will continue being a problem for the coming period, this virus has come to stay in our lives for a while. It will affect our daily routine and thus our business as well. It is a crisis to face. It’s too early to announce any back-up plan as of now. However, we are currently pushing sales as much as possible. I believe the fruit and vegetables will keep going on just as the general food sector will. The logistics surrounding are getting difficult while borders are closed in Europe. This will surely affect the delivery lead times to our clients,” she concluded.