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Greek PM accused of breaking coronavirus lockdown rules — again

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Kyriakos Mitsotakis spotted attending a gathering of 30-40 at the weekend

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has come under fire again for apparently disregarding his own government’s coronavirus lockdown rules.

Videos and pictures started circulating over the weekend on social media, appearing to show Mitsotakis during a visit to the island of Ikaria attending a gathering with 30-40 people on the balcony of the house of a local MP from the ruling New Democracy party, Christodoulos Stefanadis‬, who is also a doctor.

Mitsotakis was visiting the remote islands of Ikaria and Fournoi in the eastern Aegean over the weekend to oversee vaccination progress. According to local media reports, government officials, ministers and health officials were also present at the gathering.

This comes on the first weekend of tough new restrictions in many parts of the country, as well as an earlier curfew of 6 p.m.

Greeks have been in lockdown since November and are not allowed to attend gatherings or move from one municipality to the other to visit their families. They are only allowed to leave their homes to go to work, shop for essentials, visit a doctor or exercise close to their house and in groups of no more than three people. Rule-breakers face fines of €300 and the organizers of a gathering €3,000.

Nearly 6,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Greece so far and over 260 people are currently in intensive care. The rise in cases again forced the government to announce new restrictions on Friday.

Mitsotakis was previously accused of breaking lockdown rules in early December, when he faced a backlash over mountain-biking with his wife in a forest around the Parnitha mountain north of Athens and posing for photos with several passersby — none of them wearing masks.

The gathering on Ikaria has been denounced by all opposition parties, who called the pictures “provocative” and “offensive” and the prime minister “irresponsibly arrogant.”

“Τhe wise man does not make the same mistake twice,” said Alexis Tsipras, leader of the main opposition party Syriza, on Instagram. “It is obviously not a repeated act of carelessness, but it shows deep arrogance and boasting. I am in power and I do what I want. Why? Because I can do so.”

Stefanadis said that during the lunch, all preventative health measures were taken, with the meeting taking place outdoors and people wearing masks between meals. He added that the number of attendees was high because the prime minister was accompanied by the government delegation from Athens, as well as their security team.

Government spokesman Christos Tarantilis said the opposition’s criticism “lacks seriousness,” but added that “in any case, in the prime minister’s future tours, every possible effort will be made to avoid creating a false impression.”

The article was first published in Politico

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