Published on : Tuesday, May 19, 2020
This weekend, Greeks rushed to the seaside when over 500 beaches were reopened after the lockdown as the country sought to walk the fine line between protecting people from COVID-19 at the same time revitalizing its tourism on which many people depend for their livelihoods.
For many in Greece, it was a first venture into a big public venue from the time the country started ease lockdown earlier this month, and it overlaped with the first heatwave of 2020.
Sun-seekers had to respect social distancing which even specified how far umbrellas should be kept apart.
Per 1,000 square meters, not more than 40 people were allowed while umbrella poles had to be four meters (13 ft) apart. Canopies were placed no closer than one meter, as per a government-issued manual.
A popular beach to the south of Athens, Alimos, people had lined up from the early morning to take their preferred place in the sunshine.
“This is the best thing for us elderly … to come and relax a bit after being locked in,” Yannis Tentomas, who is 70, said as he settled down under an umbrella.
He explained that he was complying with distancing rules, adding: “It’s like a gun to the head.”
The manager of the beach, Nikos Venieris, mentioned that so far the visitors were quite good in following the rules and he expected they would continue to do so during the summer.
“We’re traveling an unknown road, and we don’t know where it’s going to end up,” he added.
At an adjacent beach, a drone with loudspeakers buzzed over the sun-loungers requesting people to maintain safe distances from each other.
The raise of the lockdown comes as countries all over Europe and continent look to relieve restrictions imposed to curb the pandemic, in an attempt to bring back economy to life.
Greece reported a fraction of the COVID-19 cases of neighboring countries – over 2,800 infections with 160 deaths. From May 4th, it started phased-in easing of the lockdown that had been in place since mid-March.
The country with population of 11 million is one of the most dependent in Europe on tourism sector, which generates about a fifth of its economic output.