Mykonos is the last place you would consider for quiet vacations or for going to bed early. Saturday’s Mykonos Covid lockdown made it just that, however.
Thanks to the latest government restrictions, to curb an exponential increase in Covid-19 cases, on Saturday the government prohibited music and mingling from 1 to 6 am for the week ahead on the “island of the 24/7 party.”
Mykonos hospitality entrepreneurs met Saturday night in an emergency session to discuss how they would face the latest Greek government “punishment” targeting the local industry.
On Saturday afternoon the office of the General Secretariat of Citizen’s Protection Services announced that Mykonos must have new safety measures imposed because of an exponential increase in positive Covid-19 cases. As of Saturday, July 17 beginning at 6 pm in the evening, no music was allowed to play in any public venues at any time of the night or day.
In addition, there is now a nighttime curfew for all persons from 1 am until 6 am which began Sunday, July 18. The measure is in place until 12 AM Monday, July 26. Nikos Chardalias, Deputy Minister for Citizen Protection, announced that the additional restrictions would remain in place only for the island of Mykonos until 12 AM on Monday, July 26.
According to Chardalias, other flashpoints with rising Covid-19 cases around Greece are being watched. The measures will cease once epidemiological evidence suggests that the spread of the coronavirus is no longer out of control.
Mykonos Entrepreneurs Shocked by Local Covid Lockdown
Mykonos entrepreneurs and local municipal leadership were in shock following the Saturday afternoon announcement, particularly since bars and restaurants had opened their indoor spaces only one day earlier, duly segregating vaccinated and unvaccinated clients according to the government’s protocols issued early in July.
There are three points of contention concerning the 24/7 ban on music as well as the nighttime curfew. The statistics do not appear to be reflective of the reality. Currently on Mykonos there are more than 100,000 people — local residents, seasonal workers and tourists.
The government, however, is basing their “red zone” statistics on a population with an average of 40 cases a day with the local residency numbers at 10,000 instead of the current 100,000.
Mykonos also serves as an international connection hub, with more than 100 flights daily to and from international destinations. Many visitors come through Mykonos but do not remain on the island.
Tourists travel to other islands because of the 20 ferry boats and high-speed vessels coming and going daily out of the port of Mykonos to other destinations. Often, they return here for their coronavirus testing the day before their departure on an international flight, after spending their time in other destinations.
Mykonos Mayor Calls Lockdown a Punitive Tactic
Mykonos Mayor Konstandinos Koukas stated that the government should immediately reconsider these safety restrictions amounting to a Mykonos lockdown. Koukas said pointedly that “the only thing that this will accomplish is to give visitors an incentive to leave Mykonos, to travel to other islands.”
He stated that in no way will the measures be effective for the protection of the public’s health.
Koukas said of the Mykonos lockdown that “the implementation of these sudden measures, even for 10 days, in the heart of the tourist season, for the island which is a top international destination, is a misguided action. In essence it demonstrates a punitive tactic put forth to a community that has done everything in its power to protect public health.”
In an emergency session of the city council Sunday night local leaders proposed that rather than the measures of no music and the nighttime curfew be replaced instead with three proposals. The municipality suggested a mandatory mask mandate be reinstituted for all public outdoor spaces, travelers arriving with a Green Pass be required to test every 72 hours and a perk of $190 be offered to unvaccinated employees by employers as an added incentive to receive the injection to protect them against the novel Coronavirus.
Mykonos was the first, but probably not the last, Greek vacation spot to have local lockdowns imposed. Currently under consideration, more lockdowns are in discussion, particularly the islands, where ease of mobility and less stringent protocols seem to be increasing the epidemiological evidence.
The Greek islands with rapidly increasing coronavirus rates are Paros, Santorini, Ios, and Santorini; on Crete, in Rethymno and Heraklion, more local lockdowns may be imposed.
Ironically, Mykonos has had one of the highest vaccination rates across the nation for its local residents. Almost 90 percent of its population, approximately 10,000 residents, has now been inoculated against the Coronavirus. And yet, with so many residents who have cooperated with government advisories, a Mykonos lockdown was implemented.
Mykonos Hospitality Associations Respond to Local Lockdown
The Association of Mykonos Town Businesses and Professionals (AMTBP) set a deadline of Monday, July 19 to confront the government and issued the statement that follows after meeting with the municipality and their members.
In the joint statement released by the two hospitality associations on the island, they condemned the government for the surprise attack on the country’s flagship of tourism, occasioning incalculable damage because of supply orders, cancellations and staff furloughs. The statement makes seven recommendations.
They insist that the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis be held to his word that the rights of the vaccinated would not be restricted, there would be mandatory vaccination for all staff in the hospitality sector, and that the vaccinated may continue to enjoy their rights without restrictions.
In addition, they demand that there should be mandatory testing every 72 hours for the unvaccinated, and to not include visitors who use Mykonos as a hub to international transport but have actually vacationed on neighboring islands in their statistics.
They also call for stopping the illegal private villa parties and to cease fudging the statistics which amount to 40 coronavirus cases putting Mykonos in a red zone — based on a winter population of 10,000 permanent residents.
Currently the island is hosting 100,000 plus individuals — both permanent residents and visitors alike — so the statistics should reflect just that: 40 in 100,000 not 40 in 10,000.
Nightlife Used as Scapegoat for Coronavirus Spread
Nightlife in Greece appears to be used as the scapegoat now for the spread of Covid-19, not just in Mykonos but throughout Greece.
A crackdown on Greek nightclubs, bars and restaurants since July 8 which has made it illegal to stand, dance or mingle, is one part of the Greek government’s effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Dancing or any kind of movement by customers in a nightclub, bar or restaurant has been severely restricted by the Greek government. Customers are now required to remain seated at all catering venues. They are completely prohibited from standing, mingling or dancing together.
Crackdown On Illegal Villa Parties Spreading Covid
Following a report by Greek Reporter last week on the prohibition of dance across Greece and suggestions proposed by the AMTBP, the business owners stated they would not be the government’s scapegoat for the rise in coronavirus cases.
In their scathing letter to the Prime Minister and various Greek ministries, the association used the example of Ibiza, which began fining anyone $600,000 for hosting illegal gatherings beginning last year, dubbing them “Corona Parties.” On Thursday, the government finally intervened, issuing a ruling establishing $60,000 to $250,000 fines for anyone throwing illegal parties on private property.
The association openly pointed a finger at the private parties that take place nightly at villas across the island. Some of these events are organized by private individuals and others by beach clubs who want their usual seaside parties to be able to continue till dawn.
The AMTBP succeeded in ensuring the government is as strict in enforcing measures, including issuing fines and making arrests, with the private party venues as they are with officially licensed establishments.
On July 7 the Deputy Minister of Citizen’s Protection, Nikos Chardalias, announced that because of the rampant spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus evidenced in testing statistics, new safeguards would be put in place for the hospitality industry across the nation.
As of July 8, patrons at clubs, restaurants and bars across the nation are no longer permitted to be on the premises of the venue standing or dancing. Patrons are restricted to their seats and not allowed to either circulate inside the venue or dance.
The dance violation remains in place but the prohibition of music and circulating between 1 to 6 am only applies to Mykonos. Currently the rules are three strikes and you are out.
For a first violation, a Greek nightclub is issued a fine of almost $12,000 and will immediately close for seven days. The second infraction is another $12,000 fine and closure for 15 days, effective immediately. The third violation will close the venue for good, with both a hefty fine and their license to operate revoked.
Since early May, the Greek government has been courting the world, inviting folks to come to Greece to vacation in an effort to revitalize the economy because a huge percentage of its income is generated from the tourism sector.
One of the selling points of Greece as a destination is a culture of nightlife, music and dancing. And particularly for destinations renowned for their 24/7 party vibe, like Mykonos, the restriction imposed on movement within a nightclub venue pretty much closes any officially licensed establishment offering mingling, music and dancing.
Bar, restaurant and nightclub owners in Greece had a fierce reaction to the safety measures set on July 8 because most venues will simply have to close if customers are not allowed to mingle or dance.