New Lockdown: the Greek experience

During the first Lockdown in March, I chose to go back to Greece in order to be with my family during Easter. Back then, I had no idea what was going to happen with this pandemic, and I believed that I was going to stay at my parents’ home for a couple of months. My thoughts were wrong. It’s been almost nine months and I am still in my hometown, trying to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and get as much time as I can with my family and my friends.

The first lockdown in Greece was hard, but not as hard as it was in other countries and especially in the UK. The government announced a new way of going out in order to shop, go to the bank or just have a walk, by sending text messages in a five-digit number and waiting to be approved. The restaurants and bars were closed for more than three months, and for a certain amount of time, we were not allowed to travel. The number of daily cases was not very serious, and the deaths were only a few. Everything seemed fine and ready to reopen.

Although the Greek government had to open the borders, in order to boost the economy and that’s where the trouble began. Because of the nature of Greece, when the borders opened, we had many visitors through our road borders and even if many were tested, it wasn’t enough. After that, the situation escalated very quickly. Day after day the cases were rising and by August the situation in Halkidiki (popular holiday destination in North Greece) was unbearable resulting a mini lockdown in the area and cutting short its tourist period. Also, the Greek government took other measures, such as closing bars at midnight and not letting the stores sell alcohol after that time.

And if at the time those results seemed fit, they helped temporarily. In October the cases reached almost 2,000 for the first time, and the Greek hospitals were not able to handle the situation and especially in North Greece and Macedonia, where one of its biggest cities, Thessaloniki, was forced to be put in a “self-lockdown”. A week later, at the end of October, our Prime minister announced that there is a need for a second national lockdown, which was due the end of November, but it was extended until the 7th of December. During this new lockdown, we are not allowed to be outside after 9pm and we had to text the five-digit number (again!).

In this new lockdown many people are struggling, particularly those who are small businesses and those who work in hospitality. However, many people are struggling with the virus and even more with the psychological effect of Covid-19. Isolating and not being able to see family and friends, not being able to go freely to a restaurant or just for a walk, to go your workplace , travel, meet people and have a good time, is affecting our psychology in a negative way. Thankfully, there are certain things that can take our minds of this situation, for example for me it’s my university courses, for others it’s just TikTok and Netflix.

I hope that before Christmas the situation will get better, and that we will be able to celebrate as a family. I will try to keep a positive mind and believe that everything will get better. Who knows? It might be our Christmas miracle…

Eirini Pantelidou