Update 8 (29/5): Mount Athos will reopen on June 1 following the decision by the Holy Community. However, the entry permits will be issued sparingly in terms of administration. Fifteen entry permits will be issued for each large monastery while there will not be more than five people in the sketes. It is also mentioned that pilgrims will not be able to spend the night in other monasteries, but a short pilgrimage tour may be allowed.
Update 7 (17/5): another extension of the shutdown of Athos: until May 31th.
Update 6 (2/5): the entry of visitors-pilgrims to the Athos peninsula is extended until May 17 (after on the 20th of April being extended to 30 of April).
Update 5 (14/4): On April 8th was announced that the lockdown for all visitors, including religious pilgrims, is extended until April 20th.
Update 4 (31/3): the coronavirus is found in the other three monks who traveled together with 55-year old monk from the Monastery of Xenophontos in Great Britain. Their ages range from 40 to 55 years. They are hospitalized in Thessaloniki (look here, thanks Vasilis). All four had traveled from Scotland to England on March 5 to March 17. They were guests from the Archbishop of Thyatira and Great Britain, Nikita. They carried the sacred remains of St. George. Last Sunday they left the monastery with symptoms of illness, and then went by car via the land border to Ouranoupolis and from there to Thessaloniki. The health of the four monks is not a cause for concern and their symptoms are mild (look here).
Update 3 (30/3): The ban on visitors to Mount Athos monastic community is extended to April 11. The monk who is currently hospitalized in Thessaloniki is a 55-year-old monk of Xenophontos Monastery. The monk had contact with two other monks, who are now quarantined in the monastery. Additionally, 50 pilgrims who were on the same boat as the infected monk on March 19 from Ouranoupolis to Dafni have been tracked down and quarantined, though none have as yet displayed any symptoms (news from Orthodox Christianity).
Update 2 (29/3): News from 28/3 The National Herald: a monk from Mt. Athos has been infected with COVID-19. The monk recently travelled to the UK with a monastery’s delegation. He is being treated at AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki. The other monks with Corona symptoms remain quarantined in their cells.
Update 1 (17/3): Athos closed for pilgrims from March 20th 2020.
___________________________________________________________________________________________Yesterday (25/3) monk Theodosios from Simonos Petras gave me the latest news about the situation on the Holy Mountain:
“The shops in Karyes are closed or with restricted access. The Abbott of Simonos Petras ordered the monks to stay within the area of the monastery. Ships and ferries are restricted, so no visitors can enter (which is actually quite a blessing … ). Materials are transported to a limited degree. Citizen outside have to move around with a form stating the purpose of circulation or have to send a sms for the same reason, which is to be shown to the police when asked for. For next Friday – tomorrow 27-03 – the Holy Community ordered the monasteries to hold a small vigil on behalf of the situation.”
Not everybody was well informed about the travel restrictions imposed by the Governer, according to this article on this Greek internet site: “workers arrested in Mount Athos for violating the traffic ban.”
“Three foreigners, two from Albania and one from Romania, were brought to the Thessaloniki Autonomous Criminal Court, which, following a check, were found to be traveling on Mount Athos, deprived of the certifications required in the context of emergency traffic control measures. The two Albanians apologized claimed they were unaware of the measure’s prohibition, stressing that they did not watch television….”
In Greece the amount of infected patients is relatively low: 892 people. 26 people died, with an average age of 73 years old (situation on 26th of March).
Wim Voogd, 26-03