Greece has begun deploying police units to holiday island hotspots as the country’s tourism season moves into high gear amid a worrying spread of coronavirus variants.
Authorities moved to beef up police presence on party isles such as Mykonos and Ios as concerns mounted over local entrepreneurs failing to comply with health measures aimed at curbing the pandemic. “The Delta variant has meant that every country is dealing with the fourth wave now and not as expected in November,” the Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis told the Guardian. “While hotels and family-type venues are implementing protocols diligently, there’s more congestion than we would like to see in bars, especially among the younger crowd … so we are trying to ensure some balance is kept.”
Some 186 law enforcers have been sent to Mykonos alone, up from the 56 stationed there this time last year.
On Thursday, an additional 30 policemen, backed up by security officials and undercover agents, were dispatched to Ios, the 11-mile-long Cycladic isle popular with younger tourists drawn to its bars, discos and rock clubs.
The Greek deputy civil protection minister, Nikos Hardalias, said Mykonos and Ios were “one step” away from authorities imposing further restrictions, and that the situation on the islands of Zakynthos, Tinos, Lefkada, Santorini, Paros and Rhodes was also worrying.