One after the other cities in Greece cancel the Carnival events scheduled for the upcoming weekend following the Health Ministry ban due to coronavirus. In a joint ministerial decision issued on Thursday, those not complying with the ban, are threatend with up to 2 years imprisonment.
First to announce compliance with the safety measures were the local authorities in Patras that has the largest and most popular carnival in the country. The events will be postpone, the Carnival may be held end of June, Mayor Costas Peletidis announced in the afternoon after a City Council meeting.
He added thought that the government would have to think of compensations as the carnival events attract thousands of people from Greece and abroad and boost the local economy.
Despite the authorities’ decision, some carnival clubs said that they will not cancel their plans and so said also the local restaurants and catering association.
Also the Municipality of Athens cancelled all planted events for Carnival and the Clean Monday, Feb 29 and Mar 1, 2020, and so did the Municipality of Piraeus.
Not all mayors are eager to comply with the Health Ministry order and cancel the events, thus risking up to two years imprisonment if they do not comply.
In many cities, mayor are angry about the decision and complain of “a last minute order” and a “financial disaster,” as the local economy is awaiting for that particular weekend to increase the turnover.
Speaking to media, mayor of Rethymnon, George Marinakis, expressed his displeasure and opposition to the decision, but stressed that as a municipal authority he was obliged to respect it.
“For us Carnival is not just this weekend, it is a process that is being prepared a whole year by carnival teams with the support of the Municipality. We were not asked by anyone, they just told us. ”
He expressed his concern about the decision of the Ministry of Health saying: “Are they afraid of outdoor events and are not afraid of the public transport means?”
Marinakis said that since the Carnival cancellation announced on Thursday noon, hotel bookings are being constantly cancelled, as well.
Also in Xanthi, north-eastern Greece, local authorities speak of “enormous financial losses but it goes without saying that money is not above any human life.”
However, they say that the Minister’s decision created “a panic, while everybody stresses that we must be calm. ”
There had to be a collective decision, the deputy mayor said.
In Naousa, West Macedonia, the local association of carnivalists, the Boules, decided to ignore the ban sayind it ais a centuries-old custom.
“The custom will be kept intact and the action will be carried out as it has been for centuries now. The parallel events at the restaurants of the area will take place as announced, the Boules and the local restaurant association said in a statement issued later on Thursday.
In more than 25 Greek cities and towns with the biggest carnival events, the carnivalists will shed tears this year.
It’s all about MONEY. That’s the major concern. If thousands become infected and some die nobody cares it only about MONEY. Sadly, we live in a sick world.