Well, here we are, drifting through the quietest August in living memory. Some property owners, mostly French and Italian, have travelled to Symi as they usually do at this time of the year and there are a few unfamiliar faces around, but by and large this feels more like a very hot April than the busiest fortnight in the year.
Greece appears to be heading towards the dreaded ‘second wave‘, caused not so much by large quantities of infected tourists descending upon the country in their droves but through community spread. Big weddings and crowded social gatherings seem to be the main sources of infection as the uninhibited behaviour that accompanies such events spreads the virus faster than you can say ‘Yamas!’. The government has brought in ever more regulations to try to restrain reckless behaviour but to visit Symi on any given name day in July you would never believe that religious festivals are banned. In theory the big annual shindig at the Alethini on the Pedi road should not be taking place this weekend but unless the police turn up and fine the entire populace, chances are good that it will take place as usual. It has taken a while for the wearing of masks in taxis, on the bus, in the shops and so on to catch on and there is the difficulty of enforcing mask wearing in supermarkets. People in a position of authority, like the post office staff, have a greater chance of enforcing the regulations and don’t allow a foot over the threshold without mask and appropriate social distancing, but regular shops don’t have the weight of the state behind them when it comes to persuading aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and the like to follow the rules.
We are told about record breaking numbers of new infections every day, particularly in Attica and Thessaloniki, but when it comes to revealing what is happening in the islands, figures are very generalised – knowing, for example, that there are 4 more cases in the Dodecanese today or whenever does not say very much. Gossip and speculation abound. Is it true that two tourists with high fevers were removed from Symi last week? It might be a hot topic of discussion at the hardware store or petrol station but there are no specifics. Some still say that the whole country will shut down after Panagia because someone on daytime TV speculated about this at some point. In real time, curfews have been imposed in some popular tourist destinations, including Rhodes and Mykonos, and the whole island of Poros is up in arms because party-time is over and the blame-game has begun.
Regulations for travellers have been extended and anyone coming from Spain, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands or the Czech Republic is now required to have a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before travelling. There are also further restrictions on entrance through the land borders.
Meanwhile, in other news, the cat and mouse game between Turkey and Greece continues but we will save that for another day.