Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis has come under fire from opposition parties and social media users for apparently breaking the lockdown rules in taking part in a lunch reception attended by dozens on the island of Ikaria over the weekend.
Mitsotakis, who was touring the islands of the eastern Aegean, accepted an invitation from his conservative party’s local MP, Christodoulos Stefanadis, to attend a luncheon at the lawmaker’s house.
Footage from the reception shows dozens of people sitting and standing next to each other at the reception, which was held outside, on the terrace of the lawmaker’s apartment.
Current lockdown rules in Greece strictly prohibit gatherings in private and public spaces. All restaurants are closed and all Greek citizens are strongly advised to socialize only with close relatives for now.
After the uproar, Stefanadis explained that it was just a brief meal that the officials had shared together. In addition, he said, local people came spontaneously to the house as an “expression of traditional hospitality that we all show on our island.”
According to the lawmaker, “all the measures imposed by the pandemic control protocols were observed, including the use of an outdoor area of the house, the use of masks, and the number of people sitting at tables.”
Mitsotakis accused of arrogance
Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday accused the PM of violating the current protective measures against the coronavirus.
Tsipras brought a question before Parliament in which he declared that the luncheon was “a move of unbelievable arrogance, which in any other country would provoke a major governmental crisis.”
The former PM says that the incident occurred “in the midst of the third wave of the pandemic, with the economy collapsing.”
Tsipras called on the Prime Minister to answer three questions:
- “Whether he believed that his behavior was in alignment with the restrictive measures he and his government announced;
2. What can he say to the hospitality-sector business owners that are in despair, without any support from the government; and
3. What he has to say to the citizens that observe the restriction measures for the protection of the public health but do so under the threat of fines.”
Second time Mitsotakis accused of breaking lockdown
This is the second time Prime Minister Mitsotakis had been caught apparently breaking his own government’s rule on lockdown restrictions.
In December of 2020 he was photographed mountain biking north of Athens.
A photo published in the Documento Sunday newspaper shows Mitsotakis posing with a group of motorbikers he accidentally came upon on the forest roads along the slopes of Mt. Parnitha.
Not one of them was seen wearing a mask or keeping the appropriate social distance from one another.
Moreover, many social media users had accused Mitsotakis of employing a double standard as he had traveled dozens of miles just to get to the mountain during the lockdown — when ordinary citizens are fined for traveling short distances without a specified reason.