ATHENS – With the unknown factor how many people violated COVID-19 second lockdown rules to keep Christmas gatherings to nine people, Greece’s government is holding its breath to see what happens over the next two weeks and if there will be another spike in cases.
While non-essential stores have been closed since Nov. 7 and aren’t due to open again until Jan. 7, 2021, many made use of the click-and-collect scheme that let people order online and pick up goods outside store’s doors.
That made foot traffic heavy in shopping areas and with signs that many people either weren’t wearing masks or wearing them under their chins, and not staying a safe social distance, many commingling in public squares.
“Christmas is always something to look forward to. Even though this year’s will not be the same as others, we look forward to it with joy and love,” Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias said before the holiday.
“These holidays are an important crossroads between two years that will always show us the two sides of human nature: How vulnerable, fragile and unprepared we can be in the face of an unprecedented challenge, but also how strong, capable and determined we can become along the way,” he added.
Some of the main restrictions this year included the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and a limit of nine people around the holiday table with no way possible to enforce it apart from having police knock on every door.
Police did stop motorists and pedestrians for inspections, according to government announcements with those out for reasons not allowed during a more lenient lockdown facing fines of 300 euros ($368.50) while organizers of gatherings were looking at a 3,000 euro ($3685.05) penalty.
Businesses who violated the rules could be fined up to 10,000 euros ($12,283.50) with no report anyone had been fined and some police telling people they would look the other way at Christmas.
Churches were allowed to open on Christmas Day, limited to nine people, 25 for small cathedrals and 50 for larger cathedrals, with requirements for masks and social distancing, including the country’s first official mosque.
Travelers entering Greece from any country except the United Kingdom through January 7 will have to go into quarantine for three days, while those traveling from the UK must abide by the 10-day quarantine rule.