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Politics

Greece to Announce Mandatory Vaccinations for Some Groups by Tuesday

ATHENS — Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will by Tuesday announce the government's decisions with respect to mandatory vaccination for specific sectors and the way that indoor places of hospitality and entertainment will operate after the end of this week, government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said on Monday, during the regular press briefing.

She also expressed the government's confidence on the economic front, saying that it was "certain that the restart of the economy in our country will acquire a strong momentum."

"The fact that the government spent 41 billion to support businesses, workers and the unemployed during the pandemic has contributed to this, keeping the productive fabric intact and averting a rise in unemployment. At the same time, keeping its pre-election pledges, the government initiated a bold policy of reforms, starting with the reduction of taxes and social insurance contributions," she said.

Listing four reasons for strong optimism concerning the Greek economy's future, Peloni pointed to:

– An increase in deposits in Greece, which at 14 pct of GDP were the highest of any country in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) after the United States.

– The fact that the Greek state was borrowing at the lowest rates in the country's history, indicating confidence in the economy and the country's economic policy, while non-performing loans in bank portfolios have been reduced by 32 billion euros.

– The 'Greece 2.0' Recovery Plan, which will disburse 7.5 billion euros in 2021 and more than 30 billion euros over the next seven years, increasing GDP by another 7 points.

– A series of structural reforms, such as the digital state and teleworking, the new labour laws and developmental law, tax cuts and reductions in social insurance contributions that make Greece an attractive destination for investments, as indicated by the presence of tech giants like Microsoft, Cisco, Team Viewer and Pfizer.

She referred to discussions underway in parliament on the Hercules asset protection scheme for reducing the non-performing exposures of the systemic banks to single digit percentages and the amendments to a contract for the E65 highway linking Trikala to the Egnatia highway.

Regarding the pandemic, she said a new surge was evident in many parts of the country, including Attica, Crete and the North Aegean, which mostly affected young people under 34 years old and was especially centred in the 15-24 age groups. She said that 70 pct of cases infected with the Delta variant were in people under 40, of which 13 pct needed hospital care and none of whom had been fully vaccinated. She emphasised that, while the Delta variant caused a great increase in daily cases, people that are vaccinated are protected and rarely become seriously ill or need to be admitted to hospital.

Peloni reported that 9,230,000 vaccination doses have been administered in Greece, with 5.24 million citizens having had at least one dose and 4.25 million people having fully completed their vaccination. She said that 70 pct of people over 60 were now fully vaccinated and that the platform to book voluntary vaccination appointments for ages 15-17 with parental consent will open this week.

Regarding self tests, she said that 51 pct of new cases were detected using self tests and a decision was made to provide free self tests to children aged 12 to 17, given that the new variant mainly affected younger age groups. Also extended until next Saturday, she added, was the provision of free self tests via pharmacies.

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