Confusion over parades in Thessaloniki amid coronavirus outbreak

Chaos and confusion reigned on Friday, when local authorities in Thessaloniki and the government in Athens disagreed over the traditional student and military parades on 28 October.

Local authorities have demanded the cancellation of the student parade and military restrictions in connection with the spread of the coronavirus, given the fact that intensive care units in public hospitals in the region are almost completely full.

The military parade will take place as usual on October 28, OHI National Day, with the participation of units of the Greek Armed Forces and will last 60 minutes.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs made this decision at the request of the local authorities of the second largest city in the country, reported state broadcaster ERT on Friday morning.

After some time, sources in Ministry of Internal Affairs denied the news, stating that military and student parades would be held as usual on National Day and the day before (student parades).

Several health experts have protested against the parades due to the coronavirus outbreak in northern Greece.

But the conservative government seems reluctant to cancel or in any way restrict the traditional parades in Thessaloniki and resent their conservative voting base as well. Please note that local authorities are also from New Democracy.

At a briefing on Thursday, health officials recommended using the mask even outdoors during the parade, as passers-by would crowd to watch the performance.

Last year, Thessaloniki saw a spike in infections and a dire situation in hospitals, where Covid patients died even outside intensive care units after celebrating the city’s patron Saint Demetrios on October 26.

Ground parades on October 28 were canceled last year due to the pandemic, with only the air force being allowed to march in planes and helicopters. But this year, the government believes people should get vaccinated because Covid-19 vaccines are available free of charge.

Statement The Ministry of the Interior was released shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon. It states that the student parade will run as usual on October 27, while the October 28 military parade will only run with military personnel and no civilians such as students, scouts, military veterans, etc.

Eventually, reality may force the government to decide to cancel the parade, since the million-plus city has almost as many infections every day as Athens, with its 4 million population.

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