ATHENS – The suffering and loss of life far surpasses other problems that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought for 2020 but it's also taking away the good cheer of the annual tradition of singing Christmas carols together.
That has been curtailed, robbing the country of moments when children go door-to-door ringing bells and singing, which brings them pocket money too, now too dangerous during the pandemic.
The scientific advisory panel to Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis recommended suspending the caroling which could bring people in too close contact with each other, a prime method for the deadly virus to spread quickly.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias told reporters that churches would be allowed to open to limited groups only on Christmas Day, New Year and Epiphany on Jan. 6, 2021, but only nine people allowed in, no report how that would be enforced.
He said the permitted number of worshippers in small churches will be 25 persons and 50 in large cathedrals. The use of a mask will be obligatory throughout the rituals but it wasn't said if they would have to stay a safe social distance apart.
The 9 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew will remain in place, he said, adding that police will be out in force to check for violators, who will face a 300-euro ($365.47) if caught, also required to have a permission form on their cell phone, downloaded from the Internet or written out by hand indicating why they're out, if allowed.