Unbelievably, I think I have fallen upon why Greece is in so much trouble over the current COVID/Tourism circus. Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis and his banker-turned politician boss cannot do math, let alone prioritize people over money. Who would have believed the problem ten million Greeks face could come down to Schmuck Politicians? I know you are in disbelief, so let me explain. But before I go on, I would like to plea to the many Greeks who are afraid and against vaccines.
“I think people should know there is a virus here. It kills people. And the only way we prevent it is we get vaccinated, we wear masks, we do social distancing, washing your hands all of the time, and not just to think about your freedom. No, screw your freedom. Because with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
The former Governor of California and movie icon is right and clearly not one of the Schmuck Politicians pulling all the wrong levers in Greece. We have a responsibility to one another. And screw the politicians too. The “we” is you and me, not them. They will never bear any responsibility. The only way out of this mess is to get vaccinated and as soon as possible. This is clear no matter what.
How Greeks Got Schmucked
Now, back to the business of Harry Theoharis’ latest foul-up, a goof-up of pure, simple numbers. The tourism boss is worried, like the prime minister is, that sooner or later, Greeks will blame a hasty tourism reboot as being the prime mover for the new delta variant to spread.
Theoharis is adamant, in repeat mode, to assure the world his efforts to sell airline tickets and cruise ship passages to Greece were noble, wise, and most of all, economically necessary. But, let’s take a look at Theoharis’ most recent contentions about tourism as related to COVID.
- Just the other day Theoharis told reporters about 105.609 travelers being tested at Greece’s borders during July.
- He further stated that of all these tests, only 74 were found to be positive for COVID-19.
- The tourism minister, who is not a trained physician, said the percentages were “negligable,” at 0.01% of the total tested.
- However, the fact that perhaps 1.5 million more tourists were arrived in Greece without being tested was overlooked.
- This means that it’s possible that more than 1,100 travelers who were not tested may have been infected or carriers of the virus.
I do not have the exact numbers on arrivals for July 2021, but the minister and his boss have constantly bragged about Greece Vacation 2021 being a tourist number success compared to 2020. We have this from Trending Economics:
Of course, there are other variables to consider. But, the Delta variant of the coronavirus has been proven to be far more contagious and capable of infecting those who have already been vaccinated. Now, if you’ve walked the streets of Athens, Thessaloniki, or even here in Heraklion, seeing a tourist with a mask at a restaurant or beach bar is just not happening. I won’t lay on the paint to portray the scenes for you; most Greeks watch the circus from the front row. The first point I would make is, these 100 or 1,000 infected travelers are NOT a negligible number. They are the coronavirus’ best friends.
Sure, young Greeks are refusing the vaccines just like youth everywhere else in the world. This is in part due to irresponsibility, fear, and anti-establishment trends these days. But, the problem with young Greeks avoiding the jab is mostly because they were uninformed, ignored, and marginalized in the first place. Now, Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis is on record via SKAI radio with this:
“It is obvious that we are heading to a difficult winter because, unfortunately, a small but not insignificant minority of the citizens has decided to blow up the health system of the country.”
No Accountable Schmucks
While bragging about his economic efforts being a striking success, the minister also reiterated that the Mitsotakis regime wouldn’t institute another lockdown. He also posed a veiled threat against unvaccinated people, suggesting that a lockdown for those who have not received the jab might be possible. The Greek government continues refusing any responsibility for the current COVID crisis. In Greece, it seems, the lie is so predominant that spewing a trail of them is almost expected. This is the sense on the street, at least.
Let’s remember; there was no government program of education in schools. No ads were proliferating Greek TV. The officials were not pleading with kids to do their civic duty early on. Greece was doing good to get vaccines to older adults like me, people with heart conditions from the onset. I recall the warning signs from some at the moment the Mitsotakis regime pushed to reopen tourism. CNN had it this way back before the reopening:
“A tiny minority in Greece, including some opposition politicians, see it as an unnecessary gamble, risking a further rise in Covid cases, which reached a new peak earlier in April. It comes at a time when healthcare services are already stretched.”
Theoharis talked about “five levels of protection” in his vehemence to get travelers flowing back into Greece. He said the system was more or less foolproof. Clearly, the system of protection here in Greece is anything but flawless. And now, the government has resorted to mafia tactics against those who won’t get vaccinated. The health minister of Greece just announced free COVID testing would end and that unvaccinated people will not be able to go inside restaurants, bars, or even work without two tests a week. The tests are 10 euro, so some workers won’t afford to refuse the jab much longer.
Looking back, a truly proactive effort by the Mitsotakis administration could have prevented all of this. If COVID had been treated as a health emergency instead of a tourism emergency, the coming Fall and Winter would not bring thoughts of 2020. If the priority had been stopping COVID first and then reopening the economy, by now, Greece might be the model politicians bragged it was before Summer 2020. Of course, we will never know, but blaming the public because politicians made them a second priority behind TUI, the cruise lines, the bankers, and other economic stakeholders is the real elephant in the room now.
This morning EODY reports 4.608 (a record). 32 more people died. Looking back, the total number of cases by the end of Spring 2020 was just over 4,000. Heraklion, where our offices are, is running over with tourists. I could not even find a parking place in the center yesterday. Cruise ships line the wharves. Restaurants are full. Rental cars ply the streets as if COVID never happened. And the death toll continues to mount. These Schmuck Politicians preach that tourism had no effect; at the same moment, police try to crack down on late-night parties on the islands where the virus runs amok. The case incidence in places like Mykonos is going down, while Ikaria, Santorini, and other destinations are rising. It’s as if Greece’s leadership never considered what happens when a highly contagious disease is turned loose on an island. The situation is a disaster, with the potential to become a catastrophe. And it is not the fault of some teenagers.
Schmucks Fumbling In the Dark
Meanwhile, Mitsotakis has ordered so-called cybercops FINALLY to investigate sites that propagate COVID misinformation to Greeks. But, like every other aspect of this emergency, the government moves to stomp out the new wildfires that spring up. It’s so ironic how fires have ravaged an unprepared Greece and how an unprepared government scrambles day to day to blow solutions against a threatening COVID inferno. And now Greece has been proclaimed the “tourism recovery champion of Europe” by the Financial Times and travel data company OAG. And the report says:
“The constant messaging from Greece that it is open to tourism seem to be bearing fruit.”
Indeed. Great job, Harry Theoharis, and Kyriakos Mitsotakis; you are the Schmuck Politicians of winning for the economists by staking the misery and wellbeing of the people as your investment. I suggest that all of you (meaning all Greek politicians) learn to count better, think harder, and perhaps drink more to get your courage up. Being puppets, you have not served your people well so far.
A late-breaking news bit just came in. Officials in Turkey have now discovered new variants of the coronavirus have entered their country. Greek Reporter has the story of a new variant that may be exclusive to Turkey. The country is currently being devastated by delta and delta plus, along with another strain researchers think may have originated in Turkey. Stay tuned.
Image credit: Feature image courtesy Gage Skidmore via Flickr