By Magda Panoutsopoulou
ATHENS (AA) - Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to shrink by 1% to 3% due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a strong recovery is expected in 2021, the country’s finance minister said Thursday.
In an interview with Skai TV, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Greece’s economy would not be as harsh as other European countries.
He said Europe’s economy could shrink by 5% to 8%, depending on how long the crisis lasts.
Staikouras said almost all companies will be included in the support measures to be announced next week, with the few exceptions likely to be supermarket chains.
On Wednesday, a government spokesperson said layoffs have been prohibited, while unemployment benefits that run out on March 31 will be extended, especially for those whose new jobs were to begin on April 1.
In an interview with state broadcaster ERT, spokesman Stelios Petsas said a campaign will be launched to boost the country’s tourism sector.
Tourism, one of Greece’s main sources of revenue, has been greatly affected as the government was forced to close down hotels until the end of April.
Greece has 821 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, while 22 people have lost their lives to the disease.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 175 countries and territories, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The data shows more than 487,600 cases have been reported worldwide since last December, with the death toll above 22,000 and nearly 118,000 successful recoveries.
The World Health Organization this month declared Europe the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
China, Italy, the U.S., Spain, Germany, Iran, and France are the worst-affected countries in the world at the moment.