SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 26 July 2021, Monday |

Mykonos, Greece’s famed party island, falls silent under new COVID laws

On Sunday, there was no music or dancing on Greece’s famous party island of Mykonos, as new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 caused holidaymakers to cancel vacations and irritated business owners.

Tourism accounts for a fifth of the Greek economy, and the country is in desperate need of a good season this year after visitor numbers and revenues plummeted to historic lows in 2020.

Every summer, more than a million visitors, including Hollywood stars, models, and world-famous sports, flock to Mykonos, which is one of the island’s most popular attractions.

“They decide to destroy the economy of the island at the most critical time of the year,” said Iraklis Zisimopoulos, head of a business owners’ association who owns two hotels, two restaurants and four bars on the island.

“We hope they will change their minds quickly,” Zisimopoulos said, adding he had about 30-40 hotel cancellations already.

Authorities said they were forced to impose a week-long nighttime curfew and ban on music on Saturday after a “worrying” local outbreak.

Under the rules, music is banned in restaurants, cafes and clubs and only those going to and from work or to the hospital are allowed to move around between 1 a.m to 6 a.m.

In the early hours of Sunday, bars and clubs were shut and the island’s narrow cobbled streets – usually bursting with partygoers – were dark and empty.

“My money has gone to waste, my time, I took days off work for no reason. Bye Mykonos,” said Dina, a visitor from Saudi Arabia.

“Our holiday has been ruined,” said Camilla Pierce, from the UK.

Others said they planned to spend their holiday on nearby islands.

“It is my birthday. I came to celebrate and there is no music, so there is no celebration,” said Jesus Marino, a Spanish tourist. “Bring back the music please, please, please, please.”

A month-long, country-wide ban on music in restaurants and bars to avoid people getting close to one another to be heard was lifted in June.

However, COVID-19 infections have been on the rise in Greece in recent weeks, prompting the government to require healthcare personnel and nursing home staff to be vaccinated. Indoors, only vaccinated customers are permitted to dine at restaurants and nightclubs.