Greeks celebrate a different Easter amid coronavirus lockdown, hopeful for future

Greek people celebrated a different Orthodox Easter on Sunday, “muted” compared to previous years due to the lockdown imposed to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, retaining, however, hope for the future.

Traditionally, Easter is an opportunity for most Greeks to leave the urban centers for the countryside, to gather around a table with relatives and friends, to roast lamb on a pit, singing and dancing, after attending church.

This year families are celebrating indoors, exchanging wishes over the phone or social media, due to the lockdown that started on March 23.

In order to convince even the small number of citizens who intended to violate lockdown restrictions to travel to the countryside, open churches and host gatherings of more than 10 people, the government doubled to 300 euros (327 U.S. dollars) the minimum fine for exiting home without a serious reason from Saturday until Monday night.

Controls at ports and road tolls on national highways have been stepped up and drones are also used to monitor commute within cities.

A total of 46,141 citations have been issued nationwide from March 23 to Sunday morning, according to an e-mailed press statement by the Citizen Protection Ministry. All proceeds are invested in the battle against the virus in the country.

According to the latest update by the Health Ministry on Saturday, so far Greece has 2,235 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 110 fatalities.

In his message for the day, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reflected the situation, expressing confidence that Greece will exit the current crisis stronger.

“We are celebrating a different Easter. Under the same spring sunshine, but without going to church, seeing our friends, without our customs… We are mourning for the loss of lives due to the coronavirus and we are grateful to those who are continuing to fight against it,” he said.

“With discipline and solidarity, we resisted the first waves of the pandemic. We strengthened our public health… We will exit from this pandemic with an improved state functioning because today’s needs will be turned into actions to address tomorrow’s challenges,” he added. (1 euro = 1.09 U.S. dollars)