A week ago we had a tremendous storm from the south east, driving into Pedi bay and dumping tons of sand, stones and potsherds along the waterfront. A few days later we had a big slow moving thunderstorm rumble in from the north east and deposit several hours of soaking rain over the island. Since then it has been sunshine all the way. The temperatures are rising steadily and there is no more rain on the long range forecast.
This year the lambs and kids have a reprieve. No spit roasts and big family celebrations on Easter Sunday – you can only socialise with the people who live permanently under the same roof so the usual mass gatherings of friends and relations from far and wide are banned.
The lock down on schools, universities, cultural venues, sports and so on has been extended to 10 May. Although there is some speculation that there will be a tentative opening up of restrictions including some hotels by June this is still very much hypothetical as it depends not just on how Greece gets through Easter and the 1 May holidays but also what happens in other countries. If you read the article I have linked to above, there certainly aren’t any plans to allow visitors from countries seriously affected by the virus, such as the UK, USA, France, Italy and the usual markets to arrive any time soon. The indications are that priority will be given to opening up tourism to countries that have handled the virus well and have a low level of infection such as Israel, Cyprus, the Balkan states, Lebanon and some Arabic countries.
Meanwhile, here on Symi, effectively no one can leave unless they have medical reasons to travel to Rhodes such as chemotherapy or dialysis or other urgent on-going treatment. As Rhodes is effectively closed apart from some supermarkets there wouldn’t be much point in going over for a day anyway. There isn’t even anywhere to go for coffee or lunch when one gets there!
Some hotels and seasonal businesses are steadily continuing with their annual maintenance schedules, repainting, repairing and so on, so that when the restrictions are eventually lifted they are ready to roll. It is fairly low-key, however, as hardware stores and other suppliers are closed and people are working with reduced work crews and whatever materials that they already had in hand at the time of the lock down. No trips to specialist shops in Rhodes to browse fittings and fixtures.
There is talk of implementing a voucher system for hotels to cope with Easter cancellations so to try to cushion the impact of possibly having to issue a huge number of refunds at once. There is also a lot of discussion about other ways to help the economy get through this including reducing VAT back to more acceptable levels and shedding some of the other onerous taxes that have been imposed in recent years. We shall see what happens.
Happy Easter to those of you who are celebrating this weekend. Next weekend is our turn.