Talking to my friends and family in different corners of the world has made me realise that while yes, we have all learned the proper technique of hand
washing, and the term ‘social distancing’ has become a part of every day conversation…but lockdown measures? There are a lot of different things happening with this.
In Greece, “lockdown” is what we’re calling it but it doesn’t exactly paint the picture of what’s really happening here since we certainly aren’t locked inside our houses. However, there are some regulations we have to follow that may seem extreme to some.
Schools have been closed since March 10th and non-essential services closed just days later. But the part that almost consistently gets a “what?!” reaction from others when I’m telling them about this, is the Movement Permits.
What is a Movement Permit?
Since March 23rd non-essential movement restrictions were set and we have been required to obtain a movement permit each time we need to leave our houses. That means, every time we need or want to go out, we have to ask first.
But I assure you, this sounds a lot more intense than it really is.
Should we need to:
- Go to the pharmacy or visit a doctor (after speaking to the doctor by phone already to determine that an in person visit is necessary)
- Go to the supermarket if goods cannot be shipped
- Go to the bank if no electronic transaction is possible
- Help people in need
- Go to a ceremony, such as a wedding, funeral or baptism under the conditions provided by law, or the transition of divorced parents or parents to the extent necessary to ensure the communication of parents and children, in accordance with the applicable provisions. (I copy and pasted this one directly from the official website, https://forma.gov.gr/en/ I still don’t really know what it means but I sincerely doubt anyone has been to a wedding or baptism lately because the church gates in my village have been chained and locked up tight since before Greek Orthodox Easter, and believe me that is a BIG deal here)
- Exercise or take your pet for a walk
The procedure is: send a text message to the official number including your name, address and movement code (1-6 from the list above), and wait for a return text confirming permission to move.
The confirmation text comes immediately and no one I know has ever been denied permission, although I’m sure it happens from time to time. I’ve posted a photo of what this text looks like in the image above. ΜΕΤΑΚΙΗΣΗ means movement, this is our green light to go out.
Of course we also have a lot of elderly people here and sending texts isn’t exactly part of their daily life, if they even have a mobile phone at all. So here’s where things get pretty casual; instead of sending a text and waiting for permission, you can simply grab a piece of paper, write your movement code, your name and address on it, and away you go to the supermarket.
But even if your permit is written on a napkin in purple crayon, it is taken seriously. You also have to carry your ID or passport with you, along with your permission to be out, because there are police around checking to see that everyone who’s moving about has these two things. And if you don’t, it’s €150 fine.
As of tomorrow obtaining a movement permit won’t be necessary anymore but we still need to take precautions: 2m distance between ourselves and others, one person in the supermarket at a time (that’s here in Molyvos, our supermarkets are tiny. Larger stores I’m not sure how many are allowed in at a time), rules regarding how many people can be in a vehicle with you, hand washing of course and disinfecting any items we bring home etc.
Some places will begin to reopen this week: hairdressers, bookstores, sporting good stores, among others. If we need to go to any of these places we have to wear masks and again, take the usual precautions.
The full plan for a gradual reopening of the country is in place however it’s been made very clear that this is of course subject to change, for obvious reasons.
From day one everyone has been doing a great job abiding by the rules. I find this interesting because it’s been my experience that Greeks usually get a little kick out of bending the rules here and there where they can. Visiting a traditional kafenion (cafe), before lockdown of course, you’d often find a Papous (Grandpa) or two, drinking their tiny cups of Greek coffee while savouring a cigarette directly under a No Smoking sign. Speed limit signs are taken as mere suggestions, and cutting ahead in line is common place.
Why have they been so good about staying home?
I don’t know. But I’m beyond grateful we have.
Knocking on wood while looking into the near future!
I’d love to hear what’s happening in your country as well. Please feel free to share in the comments where you’re from, what your lockdown measures have been (if there are any) and maybe even how you’ve felt about them or this time in general.
Stay safe friends.