People across Greece celebrated the Christian Orthodox Easter on Sunday under a COVID-19 lockdown for a second year in a row, gathering with family and friends in small groups and expressing hope for the post-pandemic era.
Traditionally, Easter is an opportunity for many people to leave the urban centers to celebrate in the countryside.
As the country is still in its second lockdown since last November and travel outside of prefectures is still forbidden, Greeks either roasted lamb on a pit along small streets or in their backyard.
Authorities allowed gatherings of up to 9 people indoors for the traditional meal or 12 in outdoor spaces.
"It is better than last year, but it is not as good as in previous years," Yannis told Xinhua, while checking the lamb outside his store in central Athens. During last Easter, gatherings were only allowed indoors with a maximum of 9 people.
"I would have been at my summer home at Akrata (a town at Peloponnese peninsula) by the sea. Due to the circumstances, we stayed here," explained Yannis' guest, Dimitris Xilomenos.
"It is different. I didn't go to church. In previous years I always attended the mass," Thodoros, another resident from central Athens, told Xinhua.
"We don't have so many people (this year) as in the past, because of the novel coronavirus," Maria Despotaki, a resident from a suburb of Athens, told Xinhua. "We are still having a good time with relatives and neighbors," her friend Spyros Basaris added.
As the vaccination program is underway in Greece, like in many other countries, they both voiced the hope that in the coming months people would be free to travel and celebrate again without fear.
In their messages for the day, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also expressed optimism that the end of the ordeal is close and the days ahead will be better.
"I wholeheartedly hope that this year's Resurrection signals the end of the pandemic and the healing of the traumas of the entire humanity," Sakellaropoulou said.
Mitsotakis highlighted "the hope that the gift of vaccinations brings," adding, "Greece appears to be coming out of this crisis stronger."
On Saturday evening, authorities announced 1,391 new COVID-19 infections and 72 deaths in the past 24 hours. Since the start of the pandemic, the country has registered 346,422 confirmed cases and 10,453 fatalities.
About 3.1 million vaccine doses had been administered in Greece, according to data released on Saturday.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 277 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 93 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to latest information released by the the World Health Organization on Friday.