Lockdown Rhodes 19 April 2021

I thought long and hard about writing this post as there are bound to be those who will accuse me of being ‘negative’ or ‘not looking on the bright’ side and variations on the theme. This post is an account of our personal experience in Rhodes on Monday 19 April 2021 and is what we observed on the ground. As the lockdown situation in Greece changes on a daily basis your own experience may well be different. The photos are not the usually scenes of beauty and inspiration but reflect the Zeitgeist in the part of Rhodes I saw.

As anyone who read an earlier posting will be aware, I went to Rhodes on 22 March 2021 for the first appointment involved in applying for my new biometric residence permit. As I had not yet had my second Pfizer jab then and everything was firmly closed at that point, I spent that day holed up at the Plaza apart from the period of my appointment and did not see very much. This time, when I went for my fingerprint appointment, the situation was very different. I also had an appointment with an opthamologist whose rooms are near the Casino, an area usually buzzing at this time of the year as it has always been popular with Scandinavian tourists who normally start to arrive at the end of March when the charter flights commence.

I won’t bore you with the various permits and bits of paper that are required to go from Symi to Rhodes and back on the Blue Star ferry these days, even though both are within the same regional administrative area. Suffice to say they are numerous and even so the officious policeman who grilled us for 10 minutes when we were waiting to board the Blue Star to return still wanted random items I had not thought to bring, like a copy of my marriage certificate (why?!) Interestingly I have heard that people travelling to Symi through Kolonna on Dodecanese Seaways the same week were not subject to the same police checks on boarding.

As we arrived in Rhodes at half past six in the morning, long before anywhere we needed to be was open, we drove down to the sea to eat the breakfast I had packed. The hotels along the road towards Kallithea and Faliraki did not look as though they were likely to be opening anytime soon and several looked as though they had not opened last year either.

Limited retail has been allowed to open in Greece since my previous trip a month ago, working mostly on a Click Inside or Click Away basis. Different stores have different ways of implementing these. Praktiker and Public both have an online appointment booking system and one books ones half hour shopping slot in advance, receiving a confirmation SMS on ones phone which one shows at the door. At Praktiker the security officer at the door just looked at the SMS and let us in. At Public the appointment code on the SMS was actually logged on a computer at the entrance before we were allowed in. Marks and Spencer, on the other hand, work on a telephone appointment basis. Smaller shops have signs on their doors saying how many shoppers are allowed inside at any time, based on their floor space. People were queuing outside the larger supermarkets, butchers, bakeries and greengrocers, being counted out and in by security staff – scenes reminiscent of photos of food queues in the dying days of the Soviet Union.

Only takeaway food and drink is available. As far as I could see, only a few places in Rhodes town were open and offering this service and apart from the Greek chain Gregoris they tended to be the smaller places that could be run cheaply by only one person. There were chalkboard deals offering a take away Greek coffee or frappe, small bottle of water and a pastry of some sort or basic toasted sandwich for 2.50 to 3 euros. Cheap offers attractive to people who have not had work for months.

The number of boarded up shops, premises to let, derelict hotels and abandoned bars was depressing. The pandemic came straight after a decade of austerity and financial hardship in Greece and walking around Rhodes New Town this really shows as you can see from the gallery above. We can only hope for better days ahead but for many businesses it is too late.

In the last couple of days there have been press reports regarding a ‘roadmap’ for opening Greece up to tourism after Greek Easter. As soon as meaningful information becomes available in the next couple of days I will put up another post with links to any useful sites.

Author: adrianashum1960

Writer, foodie and self-sufficiency enthusiast.

7 thoughts on “Lockdown Rhodes 19 April 2021”

  1. I have great memories of our trip from Rhodes to Symi on the ferry and falling in love with Symi. The weather was perfect and what a bustling place Rhodes and Symi were. After reading the above makes me so sad and just hope that sooner rather than later we are soon able to experience the joy of the Greek islands . Julie from NZ

  2. Dear Adriana,
    As ever, thank you for your thoroughly detailed account of your experiences on Rhodes and Symi. Far from being a welcoming tourist destination, Rhodes sounds something akin to a police state at present.. so sad.
    Here in the UK we are slowly coming out of lockdown, but it seems a long road back to any sort of normality.
    Wishing you and your family well,
    Alan and Sandra Pryer

  3. Thanks for the info Adriana. Yes pretty depressing but we need to hear reality. We are hoping to come back to symi in September so fingers crossed things open up well before then for everybody. Keep up the blog . It’s a great source of information for us who miss and love symi. Norman x

  4. Incredibly sad to read this, Adriana. And it also made me sad that you had to think long and hard about sharing your experience – social media can be brutal so I understand your hesitation. I just hate that it can bring out the worst in some people.

  5. Queues outside supermarkets and customers being counted in/out were until very recently (ie before the latest easing of lockdown) exactly what you’d see in prosperous St Albans, never mind the dying days of the Soviet Union. Some stores invested in a traffic light system where the person at the head of the queue could enter if the light was green and wait if red, but others (including Marks & Spencer) just had a member of staff at the door.

  6. Dear Adriana,

    I can only echo the previous comments. To see Rhodes town, once so lively, looking so desolate is heartbreaking. Here in Bergamo, even though at first we were the epicentre of the pandemic, we are now getting off relatively lightly and there are no scenes like the ones in your photos. But of course we are not a city that relies heavily on tourism. And I have to add that if we want to move about (I don’t), the bureaucracy is much less than it seems to be in Greece.

    I would love to return to Symi (and Kastellorizo!) but I will not be doing so until I can travel freely, as I did before. Holidays are to be enjoyed, and in the current circumstances that would be very difficult.

    Here’s hoping, and give my love to Symi.

    Richard Mason

  7. so sad to read the truth, adriana. we are in the last day of a 3 day lockdown here in Perth, West Aust. the whole of Aust. have only had just over 900 deaths, mainly in residential homes in the eastern states, we have been so lucky, all is back to normal and has been for almost a year.
    we feel for you in Europe and of course our neighbours in Bali, Vietnam and Thailand who are really feeling the blasted virus.
    i pray that symi stays safe….

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