Athena | Greece announced, on Tuesday, new restrictive measures in places of leisure and work, and the end of free testing for COVID-19 in an attempt to stop the “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.
“From September 13 until March 31, 2022, ‘new procedures’ for mandatory screening will be applied to non-vaccinators,” Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said in a statement after a press conference.
In particular, entry to cafes, bars, restaurants or sports clubs will only be allowed to vaccinate people or those who are not immunized with a certificate of contamination by COVID-19 in the past six months proving they have recovered.
For cinemas, theaters or museums, entrance will still be available to non-vaccinated people, provided they show a negative rapid test result (antigen) taken within the past 48 hours.
“More than 90% of patients in intensive care infected with the new coronavirus are not immunized,” the minister lamented, stressing that “hospital data in the past two months show that we are talking about an unvaccinated epidemic.”
He hopes these new measures will speed up the pace of vaccinations, which has slowed over the summer.
Vassilis Kikilias stressed that “these measures are not punitive,” explaining that the rapid tests conducted so far free of charge, will start from September 13 at the expense of individuals. It is priced at €10 in a country where the total minimum wage is €650.
For unvaccinated public and private employees, they will have to take a quick test once or twice a week depending on their profession, just like students in universities.
Primary or secondary students will get free kits to test themselves.
Two months ago, Greece announced its commitment to vaccination for nursing staff from 1 September.
About 5.6 million of Greece’s 10.7 million people have been vaccinated, according to official figures.
The minister emphasized that the government is moving towards “80% vaccination” and “reaching the level of other European countries, such as Spain and Portugal”.
Portugal has vaccinated 70% of its entire population and Spain 64.1%, well above the European Union average (55.5%), according to an AFP count from official sources.
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