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Greek Yacht Companies Laugh at COVID-19 Health Measures

Ευρωκίνηση

(Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yorgos Kontarinis, file)

Suggesting they can’t - or won’t - obey measures designed to prevent a resurgence of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Greek yacht companies owners said the regulations are so unrealistic they are laughable.

The health protocols published for yachting are impossible to implement, sources who weren’t identified told Kathimerini.

"They are obviously drafted by people who have never been on a yacht and do not understand or are not interested in what sailing means," the person said, especially a regulation that passengers and crew members stay at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart from each other on board.

The same rules apply to passenger ferries and other vessels but it wasn’t indicated how they could be enforced on yachts used by the wealthy, who have their own crews and couldn’t be monitored at sea.

The protocols state that if the minimum distance is not observed a fine of 150 euros ($166.48) will be imposed, including in businesses that have reopened with a gradual lifting of a lockdown that began on March 23.

But that has proved essentially impossible to enforce, as well as regulations requiring the wearing of masks and gloves in certain instances such as in supermarkets where staff can be seen without them and people in close proximity. 

Yachting is an important part of Greece’s tourism sector which is set to reopen in full on July 1 and with the New Democracy government trying to balance keeping people safe against the need to keep the economy from collapsing.

The rules for yachts went into effect on May 18 and will lapse on June 15 unless extended. GDP Headlines said they are:

  • Entry rules for private yachts and commercial pleasure boats (except cruise ships) in ports, marinas and shipyards of mainland Greece, arriving from abroad. Such vessels are allowed to enter Greek ports only if they have no passengers, under specific health rules and with permission of the competent authority
  • Continuation of the ban of boat arrivals from foreign countries for which special restrictive measures are still in force (eg Turkey)
  • Mandatory testing of the owner of the vessel and crew members in a certified laboratory (at their expense)
  • Vessels in long-term mooring at Greek ports throughout the Covid-19 pandemic must abide by EODY’s (National Public Health Organization) guidelines
  • Owners of vessels must submit a maritime health declaration
  • Information regarding the rules and regulations taken for COVID-19 in the port of use must be provided to vessel owners and crew
  • Specific rules apply for the proper management of a suspicious or confirmed case on board

The measures for the safe operation of ferries and pleasure boats in Greece were announced following approval by the Health Ministry’s Committee of Special Infectious Diseases.

“Step by step we are planning the next day of ferry transport, with rules and guidelines aimed at protecting the health of passengers and crews of ships as much as possible, as well as public health on each Greek island. The further lifting of restrictions on ferry travel will be constantly monitored and solely depends on ourselves and our compliance with the measures,” Greek Maritime Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis said, the site added.