Authorities on Greece’s most popular tourist island, Mykonos, will deploy more than a dozen drones to spot those who challenge safety protocols aimed at preventing the spread and resurgence of COVID-19.
The decision, known as “Operation Mykonos,” comes after a string of local so-called “Corona-parties”. They were organised by entrepreneurs at private villas and estates in recent weeks to bypass safety rules banning the nightclubs.
It also comes as the Greek government struggles to revive its battered tourism sector. It is tempting foreign travelers — mainly from the US, Europe, Israel, and Russia — with the promise of safe summer holidays.
Foreign travelers must abide by local lockdowns, curfews, and safety protocols during their stays.
Under “Operation Mykonos,” authorities will deploy 15 drones to fly over private villas or establishments in Mykonos. That is where the packed parties with hundreds of locals and foreigners were organized in recent weeks. Police teams will raid the establishments upon notice, fining the offenders.
Fines range between $365 to over 6,000 euros, Greek City Times reports.
The measures, with police controls, inspections and surveillance cameras across Mykonos, will serve as a blueprint for other popular hotspots. These include Rhodes, Santorini and Paros, according to authorities.
“Illegal parties spell a greater risk of infecting more and more people,” warns Nikos Hardalias, head of Civil Protection Agency. “It spells a spike in COVID cases that can lead to fresh restrictions; leading businesses to shut down, causing major damage to tourist areas.”
Stopping the “corona-parties”
“It is high time,” he warns, “for everyone to size up to the challenge and take on full responsibility for their actions.”
On Monday, government spokesman Aristotelia Peloni also criticized the mushrooming “corona-parties” gripping the country, saying she wished “Greece’s youth showed similar initiative and enthusiasm in the state’s nationwide vaccination drive.”
“The country’s freedom,” she says, “can only come through comprehensive immunization.”
Effectively in lockdown since last November, Greece started easing some of its sweeping restrictions, including curfews and travel bans, in mid-May when it re-launched international travel.
The latest crackdown, however, underscores the absurdity of what critics call a hasty and ill-thought-out strategy.
Under a campaign called “Blue Freedom,” the government wants to vaccinate all 700,000 or so adult residents of Greece’s islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas by the end of June, hoping that Greece can make Britain’s revised green list of travel nations.
All islanders can get the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to boost immunization.
By June, Mykonos had vaccinated about four in ten of its residents, and Santorini over 50% the highest in Greece.