NEWS

Greek police step up checks at toll stations to curb Easter travel

greek-police-step-up-checks-at-toll-stations-to-curb-easter-travel

Greek police stepped up controls on motorways leading out of Athens on Friday, triggering long queues at toll stations, as they checked on drivers to curb travel ahead of the start of the Eastern Orthodox Easter week.

Greece has allowed church services during Holy Week starting on Monday with masks and distancing. But Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said people should not travel between regions to avoid a surge in coronavirus cases ahead of the planned opening of its key tourism season on May 15, with few exceptions.

Many Greeks celebrate Easter with family gatherings in their home regions or in holiday homes in the countryside and months of lockdowns have raised concern that people will defy restrictions on travel. Authorities have imposed a 300 euro fine for travelling without justification.

Greek state television showed images of cars in long queues, waiting to pass through a major toll station. It reported that highway police had stopped one man who said he had to take his pet to a vet outside Athens.

Police said they were limiting the number of open toll booths to make their checks and had stopped 42 people on Friday.

Greece fared relatively well in containing the first wave of the pandemic but was forced to impose a strict lockdown late last year following a resurgence and it has seen health services come under extreme strain in the latest wave.

Health authorities have reported 326,395 infections and 9,788 deaths so far.

After launching a mass distribution of free home testing kits this month, it reopened senior high schools and some services. Restaurants will resume operations next month. 

[Reuters]