Over in Greece it’s D-day for those who have yet to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as restrictions banning entry to eateries, cafés, bars and other venues come into effect.
The measures, to be enforced through March next year, amount to what local media have described as a lockdown for those who have not been inoculated. Only people who can prove they have been vaccinated, or have recovered from the virus in the last six months, will be granted access to indoor entertainment venues including tavernas, restaurants, bars and clubs with verification checks conducted at points of entry through an app that scans Covid-19 certificates.
“The controls will be strict … we’ll check all those who come indoors with the app. Our basic goal is not to have to close again,” said Andreas Martzaklis who owns a café in the ancient district of Plaka beneath the Acropolis. “We’ve had a difficult time and we have to be especially careful. All our personnel have been vaccinated. We’re sticking to all the measures, the social distancing rules, we’re going to do everything to stay open.”
Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ centre-right administration announced the regulations on August 24th hoping to coax those who have been reluctant to get the shot to finally do so.
Under the new regulations, unvaccinated employees working in frontline professions such as tourism and academia will be required to undergo weekly or twice-weekly testing at their own expense. There will be a flat 10-euro fee for tests.
Unvaccinated citizens will be granted entry to cinemas, theatres, museums, archaeological sites and gyms but only if they can provide a negative rapid test conducted within 48 hours. The condition, however, appears to be arbitrary with venues given the right to turn non-vaccinated people away.
Government officials confirmed the restrictions will apply to everyone. “They are there for all, Greeks and foreigners alike,” one told the Guardian.
Greece has recorded almost 617,000 coronavirus cases since the outbreak of the pandemic with the public health body EODY on Monday announcing a further 1,608 infections over the last 24 hours. The death toll rose by 51 bringing the total number of fatalities to 14,223. Of that number 95.4 percent had an underlying illness or were over the age of 70.
The regulations came into effect as schools reopened nationwide amid continuing concerns over contagion rates rising on the back of the highly transmissible Delta variant. Pupils who have not been inoculated will be subject to free twice-weekly self tests while unvaccinated educators will only be permitted to teach if they produce negative rapid tests taken at their own expense twice a week.
Mask-wearing will be obligatory.