Now that the tourist high season is coming to an end, Greece is tightening its corona measures. From September 13 until at least the end of March next year, unvaccinated people will only be allowed to enter theaters, museums, cinemas and gyms with a negative test certificate.
Owners may decide to refuse unvaccinated persons. Furthermore, as of September 13, all public transport will only be accessible with a puncture certificate or a negative test, with the exception of city transport. In addition, guests who have not had a corona vaccine are not welcome in the indoor areas of the catering industry. Terraces will remain accessible, but they will become a lot less attractive from autumn due to the colder weather. The public test locations, where everyone can now be checked for the virus for free and receive proof, will ask for money from unvaccinated people. The measures also apply to tourists.
The reason for the tightening of the measures is the sharp increase in the number of infections in recent days. On Tuesday, Greece even recorded the absolute record of more than 4600 new cases. Never before since the outbreak of the corona pandemic have so many people in the country tested positive.
At the same time, vaccination coverage is stagnating. After a flying start, Greece is starting to fall behind in Europe. Only about 53 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, while 56 percent has received a first shot. Many Greeks don’t trust the vaccines – or the authorities in Athens – or prefer to look out of the window. Through a kind of lockdown for unvaccinated, as Greek media call the situation from September 13, the government is trying to encourage skeptical Greeks to get a shot.
This is not a punishment, but what we must do as a responsible country
“This is not a punishment, but what we must do as a responsible country,” said Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias when announcing the tightening. “It is our duty to the millions of citizens who have been careful of themselves and their fellow citizens for 18 months during the pandemic. Unlike last year, everyone can protect themselves and others. The vaccines have been available for eight months. Data from hospitals show that we are now dealing with an epidemic among unvaccinated.” Of the patients who are in intensive care with corona, 90 percent have not been vaccinated.
In order to encourage the Greeks even more to get vaccinated, the reins are also being tightened in the workplace. All unvaccinated people, civil servants and private sector employees, are required to present a negative rapid test once a week. In some sectors with a lot of customer contact, such as the hospitality industry and tourism, even two. Costs are for your own account. The test proof must be uploaded by the employees via a government website. Anyone who refuses may be suspended.
Obligation to puncture
The government is also considering making vaccination mandatory for categories of civil servants, starting with the military and police. Healthcare workers and pharmacists, whose vaccination skepticism is remarkably high, are already obliged to be vaccinated. In nursing homes, the first employees have already been suspended. For today, the union of health workers in state hospitals has declared a nationwide strike.
In the meantime, a mini-lockdown applies from today in the Messinia region, on the Peloponnese peninsula around the city of Kalamata. It is forbidden to be on the street from 1 a.m. Music in the catering industry is also prohibited. Similar restrictions are also in place in much of Crete.
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