Greece on Wednesday took its social distancing measures one step further and announced strict rules to prevent “non-essential travel” to the countryside and islands during the Easter period, aiming to to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The rules, which took effect as of 6pm on Wednesday, come before Easter as it is common in Greece for citizens to leave the city and celebrate the holiday in their villages or on the islands. The rules will last until April 27.
Exempt from the ban are those traveling to their permanent place of residence outside urban areas. In this case, travelers must present proof of residence (E1 tax statement or certificate of permanent residence) upon request. Travelers should note that they will not have the ability to return from their permanent place of residence until the country’s general lockdown ends.
Checkpoints have been set up on national and provincial roads in Greece, as well at toll stations, at ports, in airports and at intercity bus and train stations.
According to the Civil Protection Ministry, no passenger tickets of any kind will be issued and no one will be allowed to board any means of transport without presenting their E1 tax statement or certificate of permanent residence.
Underlining in an announcement that the movement for leisure and excursion purposes is considered “abusive” at this time, the ministry announced that offenders will be fined 300 euros, twice as much as the already-imposed fine for “unnecessary movement”. Violators that are driving will have their license plates revoked for some two months.
Speaking during a media briefing, Greek Deputy Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias underlined that the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus in Greece remains strong and that the new rules are needed to protect all areas and residents of the country.
“The need to protect the countryside, our villages, our islands and especially all those belonging to vulnerable groups in all parts of our country require us to make new decisions,” said Hardalias.
Easter will be celebrated this year on April 19. Travel for Easter usually starts a week in advance during Holy Week.
The coronavirus has so far infected 1,884 people in the country and the death toll has reached 83.