Greece Bans Ferry Travel to Islands to Prevent Coronavirus Spread



File photo

Greece has toughened its response to people who have ignored warnings to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, announcing that only islanders will be allowed to board ferries starting at 06:00 a.m. on Saturday.

The decision, taken by Greece’s Maritime Minister Giannis Plakiotakis, aims to stop Athenians from transmitting the virus to the Aegean and Ionian islands where, until now, there have been only a few recorded cases.

The routes that will remain in operation, Plakiotakis said, will be exclusively for the benefit of permanent residents, for the transfer of goods and necessary services as well as for those wishing to depart from the islands.

“In this way we protect the inhabitants of our islands. The smaller the island, the more difficult, if impossible, for someone to receive treatment if he or she falls ill. We need to show social responsibility. We need to prevent the spread of the pandemic. ‘We stay home!'” Plakiotakis stressed in his announcement.

The new measure comes as thousands of Greeks take advantage of the warm weather and the closure of many businesses in Athens and other major cities to travel to the countryside and the islands.

Photographs posted on social media on Friday show greatly increased traffic on the major highways out of Athens.