Locked down Greek fir tree farmers wait for Christmas miracle


Workers gather fir trees, grown to be sold as Christmas trees, at a farm in the village of Taxiarchis, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the region of Chalkidiki, Greece, November 29, 2020. Picture taken November 29, 2020. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

TAXIARCHIS, Greece (Reuters) - Locked down by coronavirus at their busiest time of year, fir tree farmers in Greece are hoping for a Christmas miracle to salvage a season all but lost.

A nationwide lockdown has meant thousands of Christmas trees may not get to market in time in a blow to farmers in an area of northern Greece where fir tree sales are their only livelihood.

"It will be a huge catastrophe," said Christos Bitsios, a fir farmer in Taxiarchis, a mountainous village in Greece's Chalkidiki region.

Greece has extended to Dec. 7 a nationwide lockdown it imposed in November, its second since the coronavirus pandemic began, after a surge in COVID-19 cases. Northern Greece has been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

This time last year, Christmas trees were up for sale, Bitsios said. The annual crop requires up to 15 years of labour and the trees must be cut annually or they dry out as they are densely planted, he said.

Authorities say easing the restrictions would require a significant drop in COVID-19 cases which would ease pressure on the health system.

Greece registered 1,044 cases on Monday, bringing the total to 105,271 infections since the pandemic began.

Bitsios is optimistic that 2020 could be a year of high demand, if restrictions are eased, as people were more likely to stay home for Christmas.

"If they allow us, if they open the retail sector, we may fare better than other years because people want to decorate a tree. We've received many calls, many orders," he said.

If not, the loss for the village is estimated at 300,000 euros ($360,000). Asked what he wants from Santa Claus this year, Bitsios said: "Better luck next year".

(Reporting by Alexandros Avramidis; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

Next In World

Records: Trump allies behind rally that ignited Capitol riot
Wuhan, one year after coronavirus lockdown
Fragile Italian government faces do-or-die votes in parliament
Nurse first to receive Chinese Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19 in Brazil
Brazil approves emergency use of Chinese Sinovac, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines
France registers 16,642 new coronavirus cases, 141 deaths
1st LD Writethru: "The Marksman" tops North American box office in opening weekend
U.S. California coronavirus cases close to 3 mln
COVID-19 death toll surpasses 4,000 in Israel
"Are you detaining me?" Navalny flies home, and straight into trouble

Stories You'll Enjoy