ATHENS – While Greeks flocked major shopping streets during the Christmas period in violation of COVID-19 social distancing rules, the New Democracy government said it will still keep a curfew of 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
With restaurants, bars and taverns closed until at least Jan. 7, 2021 under a second lockdown that began Nov. 7, there’s no place people can go that night for festivities, including the usual celebrations such as those traditionally held in the main Syntagma Square of the capital.
But the curfew means they allegedly won’t be able to go to private parties as the government also said gatherings even in homes had to be limited to under 10 people with no way to enforce that apart from checking every house.
People who don’t follow the rules face fines of 300 euros ($367.54) while organizers of parties could be whacked with a penalty of 3000 euros ($3675.36) as has already happened in a few instances.
But this lockdown, unlike a first in the spring that lasted 10 weeks and was strict, is far more lenient and has led to near normal street and pedestrian traffic and scenes resembling life before the pandemic, the government admitting it’s trying to keep the economy going at the same time.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas turned to urging people to follow the health protocols that include wearing masks, also being widely ignored or defied and bringing worry that mid-Januar could see a spike in cases.
Petsas said that reopening schools remains a priority for the government, adding that Education Ministry officials will soon decide whether classes can resume on Jan. 8.
He said the start of a vaccination campaign on Dec. 27 that saw politicians move to the head of the line was essential to “getting our lives back” and rebooting an economy brought down by two lockdowns this year, ending many businesses.