ATHENS – People in Greece can breathe easy – at a price – with the June 1 lifting of masks and the easing of COVID-19 health restrictions, but there are exceptions where the face coverings will still be allegedly needed.
For the first time in nearly two years, masks won’t be required almost anywhere although the pandemic is ongoing and peope are dying as the New Democracy government has turned its attention toward luring tourists and speeding an economic recovery.
The mask lifting will be until Sept. 15 when it will be reviewed to see if the leniency aimed at bringing in money has otherwise spurred a resurgence of the resilient Coronavirus, in which case it could be masks on again.
It may be hard to convince people though as even before the mask requirement was ended life in Greece seemed almost normal, with almost everyone going about their business as if there were no pandemic.
Masks are still required for healthcare facilities and nursing homes, as well as most urban public transport – the metro, electric railway, buses, trolleybuses and trams – but not for intercity buses with numbered seats.
For those buses passengers are supposed to stay apart from each other but there was no word how or whether it would be enforced as social distancing mandates were also ended previously.
Masks aren’t required on planes anymore as there are so many tourists arriving, especially from the United States, that American airlines scrambled to add more direct flights as seats filled.
The government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists still hasn’t issued a recommendation though on what to do about masks on ships where it is still mandatory, no explanation why.
The lifting of the masks mandate saw the number of COVID cases more than double the day before from 2,400 to 5,080, with another 12 deaths raising the toll to 29,845, said the National Organization for Public Health (EODY.)