ATHENS – With open defiance growing over health protocols imposed after the lifting of a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, five more Greek nightclubs in the capital were ordered shut after hosting parties although they could stay open.
That came after raids by units of the Hellenic Police and the Development Ministry’s General Secretariat for Trade and Consumer Protection found the businesses violated hygiene protocols by allowing excessive overcrowding.
The businesses, located in the port city of Piraeus and the Kerameikos and Gazi districts of central Athens, were fined a total of 15,000 euros ($16,883) although the New Democracy government said fines would be 20,000 euros ($22,511) for each establishment breaking the rules.
It also wasn't said how long they were to be closed after a club on the island of Mykonos and another on the beach in Alimos on Athens' seaside were fined 20,000 euros each and ordered to close for 60 days.
But they could appeal and the process to determine whether they can't stay open this summer might not be decided until the end of the year, allowing them to get away with breaking the rules that most clubs were following.
Health officials warned that the overcrowding continuing to be allowed could lead to a resurgence of the virus but enforcement has been almost non-existent with people refusing to wear masks and gloves in businesses or clubs and restaurants.
In a piece in Kathimerini, Maria Katakana wrote,”For all those beach bars across Greece that have been violating the ban on overcrowding, with their patrons reveling in a carefree, holiday mood, the imposition of controls to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is proving to be extremely difficult and the imposition of penalties and fines is so complicated that it ends up almost impossible to do so.
“This is not only happening on the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos, the playground of the rich and famous, but also at family-friendly beach bars in Alimos on the southern coast of Attica, while the people who crowd beaches, public squares and so on are just as responsible too,” she added.
“Alas, illegality follows the path of legality, as those who are fined can also file an objection against the decision. The objection 'will' be heard and the company 'will' close when there is a ruling – if there is one. And this could take place in November or December – that is after the summer season has ended,” she added.
“This pattern whereby penalties lose their sting and are essentially not enforced is nothing new in Greece and is old as Greek bureaucracy itself,” she wrote.