Greek Aegean Islands Go Dark Red With Rising COVID-19 Cases

ATHENS — Still not moving to require tourism worker to be vaccinated, officials from Greece's New Democracy government are close to imposing more restrictions on a host of southern Aegean islands were COVID-19 has surged again.

Tourists and visitors to the islands must show proof of being vaccinated, have a negative PCR test or proof they have recovered from the Coronavirus, raising the question of how the cases were then rising again.

The government earlier this summer, before opening the door to tourists, vowed that the entire population of scores of islands would be fully vaccinated but that hasn't included the most popular, such as Mykonos, which has run amok with cases.

It was so bad there that the government for several days imposed a night curfew and banned the playing of music – putting such a crimp into the party island where people like to dance on tabletops to loud tunes – that businesses pressured the government to lift the ban so they could profit despite the crisis.

The European Center for Disease Prevention has designated a number of Greek islands as Dark Red, which means they are essentially unsafe for people to visit or to take their own risk of being infected.

That led the government – which lured people to go there – to tell them not to go unless it's for essential business, although it wasn't said tourists who spend big would be stopped from travel, which could put a further dent in the sector.

Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias stressed that popular destinations such as Ios and Mykonos especially are close to having more restrictions imposed although previous measures have largely been ignored.

Speaking to ANT1 TV, he said the biggest worry is about Mykonos, where the government lifted measures and where defiance against them is strong despite a big police presence.

He added that 46 percent of the cases there were tourism workers at restaurants, clubs and hotels – who don't have to be vaccinated – and that no island could act with “impunity,” although that's what has happened.

“We don’t want to demonize any island, nor are we targeting anyone, but it is not possible for them not to keep their distance and not to wear masks,” Hardalias noted, although many are not wearing masks and scenes show massive crowds.

He said new measures under consideration were the old measures that were lifted but could be reimposed although he didn't say if they would be eased again if businesses complained.

“The situation requires caution; the virus is among us,” he said during a public briefing where he it wasn't said if he explained why the tourism workers aren't being vaccinated as health workers will be.

He said that the islands of Zakynthos, Tinos, Lefkada, Santorini, Paros and Rhodes have also been placed under increased surveillance as they have experienced a steady increase in cases.

He said it was up to local authorities and visitors to observe personal protection measures and safety protocols, especially in areas with a high transmission rate, despite evidence they aren't.

“And the bad thing is that some people are playing with the lives of others. And I do not know whether this is morally tolerable,” he said, without further clarifying.


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The National Herald’s Happenings of the Week by Eraklis Diamataris

The National Herald’s Happenings of the Week (Jan 15 – Jan 21) as have been reported at the print and digital editions of TNH and presented by the TNH Editor Eraklis Diamataris.

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