MYKONOS — After constant carping about wild parties on the hedonist heaven island of Mykonos, Greece's New Democracy government has been unable to stop them even amid fears they have made it a hotspot for the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police said they raided a rented villa in the area of Ftelia where a private party was under way in the early hours of Aug. 20 and that some 500 people were partying away in defiance of regulations forbidding large gatherings.
Police arrested a man, believed to have been renting the property, on charges of disturbing the peace, as well as a Spanish couple who are both said to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and were supposed to be in quarantine said Kathimerini.
There was no word on what they would be charged with although they were due to face a court on Aug. 20 and as the government is still scrambling to enforce new restrictions put in place as the number of Coronavirus cases is soaring.
Mykonos has long had a reputation of young women dancing in bikinis on tabletops and restaurants and bars flouting tax regulations and largely getting away with it, but now defiance of health protocols could make it the epicenter of a surge, the paper said.
Besides scenes of people crowded together at bars, there have been reports of giant parties in private villas with no explanation why the authorities haven't, as the island's officials requested, sent squads of police to enforce the regulations.
The British newspaper The Sun earlier said the parties, overcrowding and gatherings” are feared to have become super-spreader events,” although residents and tourists are said to be subject to spot tests from health officials.
Greek authorities at the time temporarily closed down Alemagou, one of Mykonos’ most popular beach bars, after seven staff members tested positive and more than 80 people were told to self-quarantine with no report how that could be enforced.
It was the second time the bar has been closed during the pandemic, shut for 60 days n June and the owners fined 20,000 euros ($23,577.70) but reopening again, indicating it's so profitable even big fines won't stop disobedience, as they don't tax cheating.
There was no report how long the bar would be closed this time, if more fines were issued or why it wasn't confiscated. Mykonos bars and resorts have been known to charge as much as 1,000 euros ($1178.88) a bottle.
Mayor Konstantinos Kostas had requested health teams visited the island amid mounting concern over safety violations at bars and nightclubs, the report said as the government didn't respond.
"The protection of public health is not only a duty but is the necessary precondition for maintaining the good image of the country and of the island internationally," he said, but Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is trying to balance the need to save lives against saving an economy brought down by COVID-19.