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Hundreds of Protesters Gathered in Greece's Major Cities to Mark May Day

Αssociated Press

Protesters from the communist party-affiliated PAME union practice social distancing during a May Day rally outside the Greek Parliament, in Athens, Friday, May 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS — Hundreds of protesters gathered in central Athens and the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki to mark May Day, despite appeals from the government for May Day marches and commemorations to be postponed until next Saturday, when some lockdown measures will have been lifted.

Hundreds of members of the Communist Party-backed PAME union gathered in both cities Friday morning, wearing masks and gloves and standing two meters apart. The union released photos showing organizers using measuring tape and square colored stickers to lay out the exact positions where protesters could stand for the rally in central Athens, outside Parliament.

Αssociated Press

Protesters from the communist party-affiliated PAME union wearing masks to protect against coronavirus, march during a May Day rally outside the Greek Parliament, in Athens, on Friday, May 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

This year, May Day is being celebrated “under the special, difficult circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, but with our sight turned to the day after,” Communist Party head Dimitris Koutsoumbas said during the rally. The main issue for after the pandemic, he said, was the dilemma of “socialism or barbarity. We answer socialism. A new, fair society is needed, with the working classes, the people, truly in power.”

Dozens of other unions also planned marches or commemorations, with demonstrators generally using masks and maintaining distance from each other.

Separately, police were out in force Friday to ensure Greeks don't head out to the countryside, a tradition for May Day. Lockdown measures are to be eased on Monday, but remain in force for the holiday weekend. Violators face 150 euro fines.