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Greece Using Drones on Islands to Hunt Down COVID-19 Parties

Αssociated Press

In this Sunday, June 7, 2020 photo, a yacht sails out of the harbor on the Greek island of Mykonos. (AP Photo/Derek Gatopoulos)

ATHENS – Authorities on Mykonos will use more than a dozen drones to hunt for party goers who could again spread the virus just as vaccinations are beginning to knock it down, hoping to spot them even on beaches, said the Voice of America.

The decision, known as Operation Mykonos, comes after a spate of Corona parties, many said put together by people at private villas and estates in hopes of evading cop squads trying to find and fine them.

With nightclubs – a main attraction on the island – closed during what's left of the lenient lockdown, party goers are trying to find other means to indulge themselves with disregard for the consequences.

There have been hundreds of people at the parties, said VOA, and police are using as many as 10 in a squad trying to ferret them out, warning the organizers and offenders will be arrested and fined with penalties ranging from $365 to more than $6,000.

Officials told the news site that the measures, along with tighter inspections and electronic surveillance will be used to check other islands and places where it's suspected people are trying to drink and dance and party without being caught, including Rhodes, Santorini, and Paros.

“Illegal parties spell a greater risk of seeing the virus spread, infecting more and more people,” warned Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias. “It spells a spike in COVID cases that can lead to fresh restrictions, leading businesses to shut down, causing major damage to tourist areas.” 

 “It is high time,” he warned, “for everyone to size up to the challenge and take on full responsibility of their actions.” 

Government spokesman Aristotelia Peloni also criticized the growing number of COVID-19 parties appearing across the country saying she wished, “Greece’s youth showed similar zeal and enthusiasm in the state’s nationwide vaccination drive”.

After scenes showing massive wild COVID-19 parties, including one in Greee's second-largest city of Thessaloniki where some 3,000 people danced and listened to music deep into the night, the New Democracy government said it will try to stop them.

The Thessaloniki incident looked like a giant toga party out of the film Animal House and came during an essential lifting of an already lenient lockdown that had seen unstoppable cavorting in public squares, unchecked by police.

Ironically, while restaurants and bars are allowed to serve only outside now, they were not allowed to play music because authorities said it would make people lean too close to each to be heard over the din but that restriction is being lifted.

The parties have seen people commingling  without masks or keeping safe social distances, the last real remaining health measures already widely ignored as people are returning to life as it was before the pandemic struck.

Hardalias said inspections would step up as would fines to try to stop the parties although the government earlier said it wouldn't out of fear of sparking a riot, as had happened.

“Dispersal has not been contained yet, even though there is a recession,” he stressed and referred to the new interactive epidemiological map which showed that there are 28 risky regions in Greece, with Thessaloniki last year emerging as a rebellious center of resistance against restrictions.