Crete Opens Up to the Rest of Greece on May 18



Chania, Crete. Photo credit: Haris Christodoulou, Wikimedia Commons

Reflecting the resounding success Greece has had in containing the spread of the coronavirus, travel to and from the island of Crete will resume on May 18, which is earlier than expected, according to Nikos Hardalias, Civil Protection Deputy Minister for Crisis Management.

“Beginning Monday, May 18, travel will be allowed throughout mainland Greece, as well as in Crete,” said Hardalias in his surprise announcement today.

He also said that the government hopes to allow travel between the islands beginning May 25, if the spread of the coronavirus remains contained. He noted that a final decision will be made next week.

Only permanent residents of Crete and the islands had been allowed to travel between them, although proof of residence documentation was required.

Hardalias said that the decision to allow travel between prefectures and to the island of Crete relates to the preparations made and to the strength of the local infrastructure, in the event a traveler or resident is diagnosed with Covid-19.

Further, Hardalias said the second phase of the lifting of the lockdown, which began May 11, saw the opening of schools and many businesses.

He added that there had been problems among residents when making payments at the Public Power Corporation’s local outlets, as people crowded together to pay their bills. However, authorities quickly reduced the size of the crowds there.

Regarding churches, services will be open to the public as of May 17, and restrictions will call for one person per 10 square meters (107 square feet) and a 1.5-meter (5 foot) distance between them in all directions. These restrictions will also need to be enforced during baptisms, weddings and funerals.

Also, the maximum number of attendees at any service cannot exceed 50, whatever the size of the church, he said, while all attendees must observe health precautions.

He additionally stated that the nationwide restrictions on traffic will be extended until May 21.

Hardalias then issued another warning about social distancing, as he anticipates beaches will be crowded due to the warm weather. He cautioned “There, we have to be very careful.”