ATHENS – Restrictive measures against the coronavirus currently in effect will be extended by another week to Sunday, January 23, the Greek Health Ministry announced on Wednesday, following a meeting of the ministry’s committee of health experts.
The measures had been put into effect on Thursday, December 30, through Sunday, January 16 and include the closing of all bars, cafes, restaurants and music venues at midnight throughout the week. These must operate without music, and they cannot cater to more than 6 people per table, while all customers must be fully vaccinated and be seated at all times.
The use of high protection face masks (KN95 or FFP2) is also mandatory for all passengers in all means of public transport, and highly recommended in crowded public areas, either outdoors or indoors.
Also those over 60 who don’t get a first vaccination shot by Jan. 16 will be fined 100 euros ($114) a month until they do.
More restrictions were put in place at the end of December, 2021 as the holiday season ended, after they had been eased to boost the economy driven down by more than 18 months of limitations.
The government’s advisory panel of doctors said it would regularly review data and make recommendations as the major rival SYRIZA keeps griping about the response to the pandemic.
While half of the workers in the public and private sector must work from home and masks are required indoors and out – with higher-safety KN95 or FFP2 or double masks for going into supermarkets, the ban on playing music in coffee shops, restaurants, bars and clubs may be lifted, said Kathimerini.
All entertainment venues still must shut down at midnight but there was no explanation why COVID couldn’t spread inside them before that time or if measures are being widely enforced.
In a bid to get more people vaccinated, the government’s edict for those over 60 to get a first of three shots by Jan. 16 is set to begin after recent reports that as many as 160,000 still hadn’t done so.
Violators will start being fined, with the 100 euros taken out of benefits for pensioners but it wasn’t said how the money would be collected from those working or if welfare benefits would also be affected.
Health Minister Thanos Plevris told SKAI that that the only exceptions are citizens who have applied for an exemption for medical reasons and their request has either been accepted or has not yet been examined, or those who have asked for vaccination at home.
But the General Secretary of Primary Healthcare Marios Themistokleous said those would be rarely given. “Even if someone has a contraindication to one type of vaccine, they can be vaccinated with the other type of vaccine,” he said, with shots for those with allergies being given at hospitals.
Since the vaccine mandate was announced, more than 180,000 appointments for first shots had been made up to Jan. 11 for people over 60, many for at-home, with many in that age group scrambling to get the shot to avoid being fined.