Archeologists Want Greek Culture Sites Open, COVID-19 Lockdown Break


Τhe Acropolis Museum in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS - After the New Democracy government allowed retail stores and shopping malls to open during a quasi-lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, Greek archaeologists are asking for cultural sites to admit visitors.

The Association of Greek Archaeologists (SEA) said in an appeal to the government that opening archaeological and other sites is “imperative,” especially as part of hopes to lure tourists again this year.

SEA officials said the sites provide a “breath of life,” during the pandemic although the government has barred concerts and public gatherings of more than 100 people, which could include the sites that draw masses, some in open air.

“Culture, in all its manifestations, is a true need; it is expression and a lifeline,” SEA said in an announcement, stressing that museums, archaeological sites and art galleries across Greece have been closed for nearly four months.

“Unfortunately, the government inducted cultural spaces into its horizontal lockdown measures … without producing actual evidence or data on the health risk entailed by their continued operation and without examining the possibility of them remaining open under strict safety guidelines,” it added, said Kathimerini.

“The imposition of this indiscriminate and universal lockdown has deprived society of an opportunity for release and doomed culture workers to penury and desperation,” SEA said.

The group said that archeological sites in outdoor venues must be allowed to open at once, adding that museums and other indoor cultural venues – including cinemas and theaters – can be issued a list of strict safety rules.

That would include limits on the number of admissions, sanitation protocols, physical distancing recommendations and other protections for visitors and staff as musicians have been left without work with concert halls closed to them.