ATHENS – Thousands of Greek police hit the streets and highways leading out of Greece's capital to prevent people from reaching their villages during Easter Week with inter-region travel banned under COVID-19 restrictions, but people who leave restaurants at closing time – when they open – won't be fined.
Restaurants and taverns have been closed more than half the previous 12 months under lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus, most restrictions now lifted, although not travel even as more businesses reopen.
The eateries are set to reopen on May 3, for outdoor dining only, which will handicap places without seats outside, but must close at 11 p.m. But the curfew won't apply to people who finish their meals at leave at that time, said Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis.
“There is no question of a fine,” he told Mega TV. “The key is the vaccine. If we persuade our fellow citizens to get vaccinated, then what we are discussing now will not matter,” he added, stressing that “once we reach the wall of immunity we will be able to open everything, without any problems, as in Israel.”
That was in reference to the government's vaccine campaign that is picking up after a slow start because it relied on cumbersome and delayed distribution through the European Union and health workers aren't being compelled to be inoculated despite their need.
More than 10,000 Greek police went on call on April 24 to make checks at highway toll booths and other spots looking for people trying to sneak out of Athens to reach their villages for Easter celebrations, barred for a second year.
Police are also using helicopters and drones to monitor traffic and said in the first 24 hours of going into operation the road checks resulted in 178 people being ordered to turn around, but not whether they were also fined.
Police said violators are using inventive ruses to try to persuade officials they had a legitimate reason to be on the road, including that they are going to help ill relatives, fix pipes in their holiday homes or to medical appointments.
A motorist, leaving with his family and the family dog, and the car filled with luggage, told police had an emergency appointment to take the dog to a veterinarian living in the countryside, said Kathimerini.