ATHENS – A shift toward making the economy a priority has backfired for Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as the COVID-19 pandemic is setting record case numbers daily as his government still hasn’t moved to make vaccinations mandatory.
Rabid and sometimes violent anti-vaxxers are spreading the virus and filling public hospital beds and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) after pushing back against any idea of being vaccinated, Mitsotakis’ rivals saying he caved in to them out of fear of a political cost.
As the cases have soared now past 5,000 a day – 15 times what it was earlier in the summer – he has stuck with a campaign of trying to persuade people to be vaccinated, which has failed.
Health authorities expected more than 6,000 cases on Nov. 2, a day after he convened an emergency meeting that included a health advisory panel whose recommendations for tighter measures were disregarded as he sought foreign investors and a bigger cash flow for the country.
Health Minister Thanos Plevris, who has no experience in the health field, said despite the record busting days that there won’t be across-the-board measures or any more lockdowns without explaining why.
Instead, the government is expected, after easing restrictions, to return to a requirement for social distancing – increasing it from 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) to 2 meters (6.56 feet.)
Most people have long ignored staying apart and there was no indication how the government expected they now would follow that condition, as well as one in which only six instead of 10 people would be allowed to dine together in restaurants.
Unvaccinated workers in catering and entertainment might also be required to have more COVID tests although there’s been no report whether that measure is being followed either.
They would have to have three rapid tests instead of two each week and pay for them if they’re not vaccinated. The government also is said to be again banning music, which it has done off and on, and to no longer allow mixed entertainment venues, a practice which has further spread the virus.