Following the imposition of curfew measures for Santorini and Mykonos on Sunday, mayors of some smaller Greek islands are demanding a ban on all arrivals, especially over Easter, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Among those islands is Tilos, in the Dodecanese. Its mayor, Maria Kamma, tells Greek Reporter that there is growing concern among the 500 local residents that the virus could be transferred to the island from people traveling from nearby islands and Athens.
Kamma explains that although the Greek authorities have banned all travel of non-permanent residents to the islands, “many people use loopholes to move to Tilos.”
She states “Some who own a second home here have changed in recent weeks their official permanent address from Athens or other places in Greece to Tilos.”
“Just this morning [Monday] several people arrived on a ferry boat from Athens,” Kamma adds. Local residents are also moving unchecked between islands, in particular Rhodes, and even Athens, she says.
The mayor fears that if this trend continues “it is inevitable that coronavirus will spread to Tilos, with perhaps catastrophic consequences.” Most residents, she notes, are elderly with underlying health problems and therefore are particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Kamma explains that the small island lacks the infrastructure needed to deal with any cases of the virus. “We have just one doctor on the island and the nearest reference hospital for coronavirus cases in in Crete.”
The mayor of Tilos, along with the islands of Patmos, Milos, Tilos, Ithaki, Kasos, Alonnisos, Leipsoi, Oinousses, Agathonissi, Psara, Paxos and Rhodes, urges the Greek government to impose stricter restrictions on movement to and from the islands.
“We need to close the loopholes and prevent people declaring Tilos as their permanent residence. Additionally we need to impose a 14-day quarantine on all those who travel between the islands and to and from the mainland,” she says.
The mayor adds that the island faces two huge challenges: Preventing the spread of coronavirus and planning for the post-coronavirus era. She stresses to Greek Reporter that “We need to think of how to keep the island alive after the current crisis.”
“Shops, hotels and restaurants have closed and economic activity linked to tourism has ceased. Re-opening a shop or a restaurant on Tilos, or any other small island, will take much longer than anywhere else,” Kamma says.