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Greece To Crack Down On Travel Ahead Of Easter

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Greek Taxis lined up in Athens’ Syntagma Square. Credit: Public Domain

On Friday, Greece announced more severe restrictions of movement for its residents in order to avoid a spike of coronavirus cases due to Easter celebrations. Traditionally, Athenians and other city dwellers return to their ancestors’ rural villages for Easter.

The government announced that there will be stricter checks on movement until May 10th in order to avoid spreading the coronavirus from more densely populated areas to the rest of the country.

Decision on Easter travel handed down on Friday

The Joint Ministerial decision published on Friday outlined emergency measures to restrict the movement of citizens which will be valid across the country until 6:00 AM on May 10.

The ban impacts interregional travel particularly in the Attica region, but it also will be in effect across the country. The new rules now ban:

a) Travel out of the region of one’s residence;

b) Travel to or away from the Islands Regional Unit;

c) Travel for the purpose agricultural harvesting.

Exceptions to the restrictions on Easter travel in Greece

Travel to and from work is still acceptable; however, individuals will need to be prepared to present certification from the ‘ERGANI’ system or risk paying a fine. This requirement also applies to self-employed citizens who may need to obtain an ‘ERGANI’ certificate.

Travel for health reasons is also allowed but is very restricted. Allowable travel for health reasons must be only to access a public health service. Additionally, other than in emergency cases, a document from the health service is required to legitimize travel.

In the case of travel for a funeral, a death certificate is required as proof.

Interregional travel is allowed exclusively for one’s return to a place of permanent residence; however, those who do so can only undertake this journey once and may not return. This form of travel will require the E1 tax form as documentation.

All of the exceptions listed above allow travel within a 48-hour period as delineated by the documentation, except for when returning to one’s permanent residence.

Fines at tolls in Elefsina

Over 10,000 police are on duty Friday, checking for violations of the restrictions on movement across the country. This has caused a major traffic block at the tolls in Elefsina, and according to reports many are being fined for attempting to leave Athens for Easter without valid documentation.

Fines for breaking the laws on restriction of movement are set at €300 ($361). Those who falsify documents in an attempt to get out of the city for Easter are liable to a higher fine of €500 ($603).

Those who break both regulations may be fined cumulatively.

More information is expected from the Prime Minister‘s address, to be held at 6:00 PM in Athens.

62% of Greek residents yearn for Easter back in the village

Traditionally, Greek people travel to family-owned homes in the countryside or on the islands to celebrate the most significant religious event of the Orthodox calendar year.

It is an opportunity to not only herald the arrival of spring, but also to reunite with family and observe significant cultural traditions and religious ceremonies. 

According to a national poll conducted by Alco on behalf of the Greek channel Open Beyond TV, at least 6 in 10 residents of Greece believe that the traditional Easter exodus should be allowed.

However, the government is confident that a pared-down Greek Easter is worth it in order to prevent a rise of coronavirus cases across the country and guarantee a safe summer.

 

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