Coronavirus silences traditional carolling of children in Greece


The time-honoured tradition in Greece of children going door to door singing Christmas carols has been abandoned this year on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

Greek civil protection authorities announced the ban, silencing the cherished custom for the first time in living memory.

“As far back as I can remember, there has never been anything like this. Not even during World War II,” an elderly Athenian told state television (ERT) on Thursday.

The government has also ordered drastically scaled-back Christmas celebrations: No more than nine people per household are allowed to gather, from no more than two families.

If the host of the gathering does not comply, they face a fine of 3,000 euros (3,660 dollars) while the guests must pay 300 euros.

Bars and taverns, where Greeks traditionally celebrate Christmas Eve, have been closed since early November.
To prevent gatherings of young people on the streets after the start of the 10-pm-to-5-am curfew, underground stations in central Athens will be closed, state television reported.

Police have also been checking toll booths for days to see if people from urban centres are travelling to the provinces without reason. With few exceptions, citizens are not allowed to leave the greater region of their residence.

Greece, with a population of nearly 11 million, was not badly affected by the coronavirus until late October, when cases began to rise sharply and the health system came under strain.

According to official figures, more than 4,200 people have died from or with the virus so far.

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