Delta Variant Forces Greece to Re-examine Curfews, Lockdowns and Vaccination
Curfews, local lockdowns, mandatory vaccinations, and mask wearing are back on the table as Greece’s Covid-19 management committee convened on Thursday to discuss additional or revised measures in view of soaring cases and the wider spread of the Delta variant particularly at popular tourist locations and on the islands.
Government Spokesperson Aristoetlia Peloni told journalists on Thursday, that measures regarding the mandatory vaccination of certain groups including nursing home caregivers, healthcare providers, educators and F&B professionals as well as rules concerning the operation of indoor F&B spaces (scheduled to be allowed as of July 15) will be announced at the start of the coming week.
“The framework [of operations] has been announced for dining and entertainment. In any case, current data will be evaluated and announcements will be made at the beginning of next week,” she said reiterating a call for vaccination.
At the same time, the Greek government is considering introducing a “Covid Pass”, which much like the EU Covid-19 Certificate, will be used to indicate whether a customer to an indoor restaurant, bar or café has been vaccinated, recovered or has a negative Covid-19 test result.
The news of the Covid Pass was announced by Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos, who however ruled out new measures speaking on Mega channel earlier today.
“There will be a Covid Pass, an alternative form of the certificate used in travel. There will be a validation app that will inform the business owner whether a customer is saying the truth and will be able to enter safely,” Skertsos said.
More Covid Cases on Islands, Vaccination Slow
Meanwhile, Greece’s vaccination rollout has run into obstacles. A study carried out by research firm Pulse on behalf of private channel SKAI shows an unwillingness of Greeks to get the jab despite the rising cases and authorities’ pleas. Asked whether they would get vaccinated, 36 percent said “definitely not” against 14 percent who said they would.
On Thursday, Greece reported 2,107 new coronavirus cases. Most of the cases are concentrated in the wider Athens area as well as in Thessaloniki, on Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, and on the island of Ios, where 14 youths arriving at the port of Rafina on Wednesday were found to be Covid positive. The health ministry has sent a medical squad to the island to assess the situation. The shipping ministry announced earlier this week that onboard and port inspections would be tightened through to September.
Starting today, restaurants and F&B services such as bars and cafes are only allowed to serve only seated customers.
Meanwhile, the mask-wearing regulation has created debate among experts and authorities who want the rule to be reinstated, warning that they expect more than 3,000 cases in the coming weeks and an imminent fourth wave of the deadly virus.
Minister of State George Gerapetritis ruled out the possibility of harsher measures.
According to media reports, epidemiologists have tabled a proposal that if put into effect will allow domestic travel only to those who demonstrate vaccination or negative rapid test results as is currently being applied to ferry travel. Skertsos also ruled out the possibility of banning domestic travel on land saying it would be difficult to enforce.