According to sources, the relevant proposal was put forward by Professor Sotiris Tsiodras, and the representative of the Ministry of Health for the coronavirus and the general secretary of Civil Protection, Vassilis Papageorgiou.
The monks, however, who had already imposed some restrictive measures on the pilgrims before hand, dismissed any talks of a total lockdown, citing the Athonite community’s autonomous administrative status it enjoys under the Greek Constitution.
A meeting took place at Karyes, Athos’s administrative centre, with the participation of Mr. Tsiodras, Mr. Papageorgiou, the Deputy Political Commander Aristos Kasmiroglou, officials and representatives of the Holy Community, where disagreements on the course of action emerged.
According to the Constitution, Mount Athos is governed under a special status defined by the Local Civil Administration of Mount Athos, which, however, does not extend to issues related to Public Health.
The situation in Athos, a monastic community dedicated to the Virgin Mary Theotokos, is considered very difficult at the moment, considering there are at least 12 to 13 recorded cases in a total of 1,000 members of the Holy Community.
Last night, a task force of the Hellenic National Public Health Organization (EODY) left the Athos peninsula, after completing the tests for Covid-19 in hermitages, cells and the Theological School.
Mount Athos administration circles raise the following concerns: “The Peninsula is an autonomous state like the Vatican” and “Public order according to the Constitution is the responsibility of the administration, so it must implement it, even for health reasons.”
According to the restrictive measures decided by the community itself, the issuance of special dormitory permits is accepted with a maximum of 10 people per monastery, five per convent, two per Sunday of each Skete.