Police set up checkpoints ahead of Orthodox Easter to prevent exodus

Police set up checkpoints ahead of Orthodox Easter to prevent exodus

Greek police have set up checkpoints along highways leading out of Athens to enforce a coronavirus travel ban tightened for Orthodox Easter on May 2.

Easter holidays are often celebrated with relatives outside Athens and other cities, but the government said Covid-19 infection levels remain too high to allow free travel.

The checkpoints began operating last Friday.

Churches were closed last Easter but will be allowed to remain open for this year’s services, with seating restrictions and mandatory use of Covid-19 test kits for priests and church staff. The main Easter service next Saturday will be held three hours earlier, at 9 p.m. due to curfew measures, while worshippers are being advised by the government to remain outdoors.

Additional travel restrictions are in effect through May 10, with movement between different administrative regions of the country allowed only for specific work reasons, medical emergencies, funerals of close relatives, and parental visits for divorced and separated fathers of children under 18.

The pandemic has killed more than 10,000 people in Greece. Most restrictions, including school and store closures, have been in effect since early November when the overall death toll was still below 750.

Services for the country’s vital tourism industry will open on May 15, and many restrictions are being relaxed ahead of that date.

Shopping malls will reopen Saturday, while restaurants and cafes will be allowed to serve customers seated outdoors starting May 3. [AP]

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