Despite the travel restrictions imposed by Greek authorities to contain the spread of the coronavirus, many city dwellers have still somehow managed to travel to the Aegean islands to celebrate Easter.
Speaking to Greek Reporter on Friday, Jonathan Wickens, a retired teacher originally from the UK, who owns a home on the island of Tinos, says that “almost 30 percent of the cars on the island these days have Athenian plates.”
The fear that holidaymakers may spread the virus is widespread among all Aegean islands and villages and towns on the mainland. The government has doubled fines and included removal of car plates for anyone who travels without reason for Greek Orthodox Easter. The Port Police are inspecting everyone boarding the ferries and the Coast Guard also carries out on-board inspections.
But as Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said on Thursday “One in ten Greeks has said directly or explicitly that they will not follow directions. They do not want to change their habits for one day, as if nothing is going on.”
Wickens who lives about 10 km (6 miles) outside Chora, the main town of Tinos, confirms the irresponsible behavior of the minority. He notes that when he visited a local supermarket he saw faces he had never seen before, telling Greek Reporter “They are mostly Athenians who who took it on themselves to ignore their government, and the law, and come to Tinos this Easter.”
He says that the island is fortunate that there have been no cases of Covid-19 on the island so far, let alone any deaths.
“But now because of the irresponsibility of the not so few, it is inevitable that this reality will now happen on Tinos.”
Wickens, who has been living on Tinos for four years, does not blame Greek authorities. “I do not blame the authorities for what has happened. All law requires the cooperation of the people for it to be enforceable. But these recent interlopers of Tinos were determined and bloody-minded enough to defy it.”
Speaking to Greek Reporter earlier in April, the mayor of Tilos, in the Dodecanese, said that there is growing concern among the 500 local residents that the virus could be transferred to the island from people traveling from nearby islands and Athens.
Maria Kamma explained that although the Greek authorities have banned all travel of non-permanent residents to the islands, “many people use loopholes to move to Tilos.”
She stated “Some who own a second home here have changed in recent weeks their official permanent address from Athens or other places in Greece to Tilos.”