Victory Day for those not yet vaccinated against Covid-19 has ended in Greece as restrictions banning entry to restaurants, cafes, bars and other venues came into effect.
The measures, which will be in place until March next year, amount to what local media have described as a shutdown of those who have not been vaccinated. Only people who can prove they have received a vaccination or recovered from the virus in the past six months will be given access to indoor entertainment venues including bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs with checks made at entry points through an app that screens Covid-19 certificates.
“Controls will be strict… We will check everyone who comes inside using the app. Our main goal is to never have to close again,” said Andreas Martzacles, who owns a café in the old Plaka neighborhood under the Acropolis. Be especially careful. All of our employees have been vaccinated. We adhere to all procedures, social distancing rules, and will do everything in our power to remain open.”
The center-right administration of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the regulations on August 24 in hopes of persuading those who were reluctant to finally get the chance to do so.
Under the new regulations, unvaccinated employees working in front-line occupations such as tourism and academia will be required to take a weekly or twice-weekly test at their own expense. There will be a flat fee of €10 for the tests.
Unvaccinated citizens will be given access to cinemas, theaters, museums, archaeological sites and gyms but only if they can submit a negative rapid test to be done within 48 hours. However, the situation appears to be arbitrary with places being given the right to turn away unvaccinated people.
Government officials emphasized that the restrictions would apply to everyone. “They are there for everyone, Greek and foreign alike,” one told the Guardian.
Greece has recorded nearly 617,000 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic, with public health authority EODY on Monday reporting 1,608 more infections in the past 24 hours. The death toll rose by 51 to bring the total number of dead to 14,223. Of that number, 95.4 percent had an underlying disease or were over the age of 70.
The regulations came into effect as schools across the country reopened amid persistent concerns about rising infection rates on the back of a highly transmissible delta variant. Unvaccinated pupils will be subject to free self-tests twice a week while unvaccinated teachers will be allowed to teach only if they submit negative rapid tests taken at their own expense twice a week.
Mask wearing will be mandatory.