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Society

Greece Moves Away Faster from COVID-19 Health Restrictions

ATHENS – While a lenient COVID-19 lockdown is already essentially over in Greece as people move about more freely – with masks – and can go to beaches, stores, malls and public gatherings, the New Democracy government is going to ease health measures further and faster.

That would be if the epidemiological data shows the country is beating back the pandemic as vaccinations accelerated, an announcement coming soon, said government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni, reported Kathimerini.

That could mean people won't have to get government approval through a text message on mobile forms or paper forms to move about, allow inter-regional travel and extend a night curfew until as late as 1 a.m. That would help restaurants especially who must now close at 11 p.m. and have only outdoor dining.

Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis is also set to again say that tourists must show proof of full vaccination or a negative Coronavirus molecular test taken within 72 hours before landing.

Travel by ship, plane and train will require the mandatory presentation of a negative self-test, the report said, but it's unclear what conditions would prevail for using cars to move between regions, with only random testing at stops.

Peloni, differing with Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis about rules for people who aren't vaccinated said that they won't be excluded although no details were available on what conditions would be set.

“The discussion about the exclusive privileges of vaccinated people does not make sense, unless all age groups are (being vaccinated,” she said. Earlier, Georgiadis had said that vaccinated people have more rights.

Only little more than 10 percent of Greece's population of 10.7 million has been fully inoculated so far although the campaign dubbed Eleftheria (Freedom) is being accelerated.

Heath officials said at least 70 percent of the country, or some 7.49 million people, must be fully vaccinated to beat back the pandemic but there are small hard-core elements of anti-vaxxers as they are called.

That includes a surprising number of health care workers on the front line of the Coronavirus battle who don't want to be vaccinated and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he can't force them although they are public employees, but he's considering offering them a bonus if they will get the shots.

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