ATHENS – With Italy essentially locked down over the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended flights to the hardest hit region in the north of Italy for two weeks, where tourist areas such as Venice are almost empty.
But despite the number of cases in Italy – 9,172 and climbing, and 462 deaths so far – Greece has allowed ferry boats between the countries that land in Greece’s third-largest city of Patra, an area where the virus has spread, to keep operating.
The ferries between the countries also land at the Greek port of Igoumenitsa that is 117.21 miles north on Greece’s western coast and a key spot for travel between Greece and Italy. Greek health teams were sent to Patras to inform travelers of risks.
The CAS said it was “giving priority to the safety of passengers and of flights, in alignment with the directions of the Health Ministry and EODY,” referring to the National Health Organization, which so far though hasn’t stopped the ferries.
It wasn’t said whether Greeks or travelers in Greece wanting to get to Italy will be allowed to go as Under the new safety measures in Italy, all people in the country are forbidden from traveling outside the areas where they live unless they can demonstrate a need to work or some other reason for travel to elsewhere.
The suspension on flights to the regions of Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto is to apply through March 23 and affects all Greek airports and all airlines, CAA said.
Authorities in Italy have said travel for all citizens will be limited to the area where they live unless they can demonstrate a reason to leave. The threat of a pandemic is now “very real,” said the World Health Organization.