ATHENS – The heads of Greek restaurant and merchants sectors warned that new rules that went into effect Sept. 13 prohibiting the unvaccinated from eating inside could see 25-30 percent of eateries shut down.
After being closed for more than six months by lockdowns when the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020 and is still going on, they can't afford to keep out customers, they complained of the new measures.
They were imposed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' New Democracy government in a bid to rein in a resurging pandemic that has seen the Coronavirus being spread by anti-vaxxers and those not wearing masks or staying safe social distances.
Customers who have proof of having recovered from the virus will also be allowed to go into restaurants, bars and taverns but the unvaccinated, who could eat at outdoor seatings in the summer and good weather, will be locked out.
“In practice, the capacity of food service outlets is to be reduced by 50 percent, if we take into account the low vaccination rate among the most dynamic age groups, i.e. under 45-year-olds, that constitute the category most likely to go out,” Giorgos Kavvathas, President of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) and the Panhellenic Federation of Restaurant and Related Professions (POESE) told Kathimerini.
Greece's Eleftheria (Freedom) vaccination program has seen only about 55 percent of the country's population of 10.7 million fully inoculated – far less than the 70 percent needed to beat back the pandemic even more.
The latest official figures, the paper said, showed that 38.7 percent of the 25-49 age group that make up a big chunk of restaurant business – especially at bars and coffee shops – aren't vaccinated, and 50.3 percent for 18-24 year-olds.
There is also anxiety that people could present fraudulent vaccination certificates as are more are being discovered, having been issued at health centers, apparently sold to those who want a document allowing them to avoid vaccine rules, a problem for restaurants how to screen them for authenticity.