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Society

Greece Eyes Lifting COVID-19 Mask Mandate in September – If

ATHENS – With many people already shunning them as a lenient COVID-19 lockdown has mostly been lifted, Greece's New Democracy government is said to be looking at ending a requirement to wear face masks, possibly by the end of September.

That would depend on 80 percent of the population of 10.7 million – or 8,560,000 people – being fully inoculated with two shots of most vaccines or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson from the United States.

That goal is still far off as only about 13 percent of the populace is fully vaccinated and there's a hard-core contingent of anti-vaxxers, including among health care workers and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he can't force them to get the shots.

The law allows the Health Minister to make vaccines mandatory during a pandemic and Mitsotakis said he would consider moving toward that in September if the 80 percent benchmark will be missed.

It wasn't said how that would be implemented although earlier reports said if public employees are required to get the shot and refuse that there could be disciplinary action of an unspecified nature.

Matina Pagoni, President of the Athens and Piraeus hospital doctors’ association (EINAP), told SKAI that the masks could be abandoned if the pandemic being beaten back, as the United State's Center for Disease Control did there.

She said that the daily infection rate, however, will remain high for now but is seen dropping to about 1,000 in late June as tourists begin to arrive in greater numbers, and that the number of critically ill patients will fall.

There were 2,433 cases on May 25 from 1,381 the day before as the roller-coaster ride continues, along with 50 deaths that brought the total during the 15-month health crisis to 11,872.

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