Today’s photograph is of the thermal beach on Kos. If you dig a little pit in the sand it fills up with warm water from the thermal springs just below the surface. Put it on your wishlist for when things return to normal.
A lot has happened since I last wrote. Travel restrictions have been brought in to prevent passengers travelling on ferries to the islands unless they are actually permanent residents on the islands. This was brought in to stop Athenians and others from the mainland bringing the disease into the islands. So far most confirmed cases are in Athens and northern Greece. The only confirmed case in the Dodecanese, a health worker at a clinic in Karpathos, was traced back to a visitor from Athens. As the islands don’t have serious medical facilities – on Symi for example we currently don’t even have a qualified doctor, only interns – it is important to maintain a cordon sanitaire. When travelling you have to show your passport, your residence card and also your tax certificate as this shows your official place of domicile whereas the residence card simply shows that you are either a temporary or permanent resident of Greece and the EU.
Another big change is that with effect from 6 a.m. yesterday, 23 March, we cannot leave our homes without authorisation and that is for a very limited range of criteria. The rest of the time we are to stay home. If we do go out it is singly or in pairs with a distance of 2 metres between us. When travelling by car only one passenger is permitted in addition to the driver. People going to work have to complete Form A if self employed or get their employer to fill it in and stamp it if they are employees. This is a one off form to be carried at all times, along with ID or passport and residence permit. Other activities fall under Form B which can be either a printed form, an SMS or a hand written piece of paper if there is no technology available and this has to be done for every single time one leaves the house. More details on the official government website link.
The number of customers permitted in supermarkets has been further restricted to one every 15 square metres. This doesn’t apply so much to Symi where the shops are small and people few but in Rhodes the big supermarkets have implemented a system using numbered cards. Based on the square meterage of the shop they have calculated how many customers they may have in the store at any given time. There is a staff member, suitably gloved and masked, at the door who hands out a card to each shopper until all the cards are gone. As each shopper leaves again they hand back the card which is duly sanitised and handed to the next person in line. Simple but effective and nothing fancy required to set up. Countries like the UK could implement this to reduce the locust-line stripping of supermarket shelves as well as reducing the progress of contagion. Street markets which are a common shopping venue in Greece are limited to only sell foodstuffs and the stalls have to be 5 metres apart.
Apart from ferries, there have also been major changes to flights with drastic reductions in the number of domestic flights and even bigger ones between Greece and EU/International destinations. Apart from repatriation flights and freight, there is little movement at the country’s airports.
On the home front, Symi is quieter even than it is in the depths of winter. The lambs and kids continue to frolic in the daisies. Solitary people walk their dogs as this is one of the approved activities. Parents endeavour to home-school their children and various on line classes are streamed. The churches are closed. Tomorrow is Greek Independence Day as well as the Annunciation. Normally this is marked by blazing braziers all round the harbour and leading up to Evangelismos church in Harani. This year locals will mark the event by putting lanterns on their balconies in the harbour and hanging out flags as all parades are cancelled.
The sunny mild spring weather is expected to break on Wednesday evening as the cold front currently over the Ionian, the mainland and the northern Aegean heads our way. We could be in for as much as four days of rain. Psychologically it is much easier to be indoors when it is wet and miserable outside so as long as this is not accompanied by floods this rainy spell is welcomed. Meanwhile we are all spending far too much time thinking about food. That is probably a universal thing as boredom drives us to the fridge. Fortunately I have always been a keen reader and thanks to Kobo and Kindle these days one need never run out of books. Apparently Netflix has reduced the resolution on its streaming service so that the European bandwidth does not collapse under the weight of so many subscribers.
Keep well, keep safe, keep sane and stay at home!