ATHENS — With police backing off after a confrontation earlier in the spring with people defying COVID-19 health restrictions causing an all-out riot, partiers are taking over public squares in Greece’s cities on weekend nights.
Scenes were shown in Athens and the country’s second-and-third largest cities of Thessaloniki and Patras of mostly young people occupying the squares and partying deep into night in massive crowds, most not wearing masks.
Residents who complained to police, who didn’t attempt initially to interfere, said the partiers were having moped races around the squares, playing music at full blast, singing, dancing, carousing and drinking.
In Athens, police were finally sent to cordon off Varnava Square in the Pangrati neighborhood, blocking off surrounding streets leading there to keep people from getting to the square, cutting off businesses too.
It was even wilder in Patras where huge mobs took over a major downtown square with people busting out of an already-eased lockdown that was aimed at slowing the spread of the pandemic, which didn’t work.
Defiance has been spotty otherwise, with the head of the Thessaloniki Prosecutor’s Office asking police to file charges against internet users who upload posts calling on the public to refuse to test themselves for COVID-19.
That came after a woman in the city and others blocked entrance to a school and she sued school officials for keeping out her son who refused to take a self-test required to show he wasn’t infected and was safe.
A woman in Kozani, in northern Greece was arrested for posting messages on social media urging parents not to send their children to school but was released after she asked for her trial to be postponed., was released on Friday She was charged with inciting disobedience to public health regulations via social media posts, following a prosecutor’s order, the New Democracy government struggling to contain people ahead of the Easter run-up period.