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Politics

Mitsotakis: A Debate on Possible Perks for the Fully Vaccinated Will Soon Begin

ATHENS — Developments regarding the pandemic, extra privileges for fully vaccinated citizens and the issue of mandatory vaccination for certain categories of jobs were discussed at the start of a meeting οn Tuesday between President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

"Developments on the pandemic front are good. There is a reduction in the number of cases, a rapid de-escalation in the number of hospitalisations as well as those of our fellow citizens that need to be intubated," Mitsotakis said, forecasting that this de-escalation will continue in the coming weeks if all goes well. "Of course, it is sad that the vast majority of our fellow citizens who are in hospital, those who are seriously ill in intensive care and some whom will, unfortunately, lose their lives, are our fellow citizens who are unvaccinated," he added.

Given that many of them were people who had already been given an opportunity to get vaccinated and protect themselves, he added, "this is something that we need to change."

He underlined that the vaccination programme was making fast progress, now at a steady rate of around 100,000 vaccinations – or 1 pct of the population – a day. Mitsotakis said that 6,200,000 vaccinations have been done in Greece so far, while more than four million in the country have already received a first dose. He emphasised, however, that "we must continue with the same intensity so that we can, on the one hand, build the wall of immunity but, on the other hand, ensure that during the summer this downward trend will continue, our tourism will continue normally."

"The first steps [in tourism] are very encouraging and we anticipate that the economy will be able to recover very quickly," he said.

A part of this discussion, he noted, had to do with the special perks that the people who are vaccinated will enjoy. "This debate will begin soon," he said, adding that the government will launch a discussion on this as soon as everyone in the country has been given the opportunity to get vaccinated within a reasonable space of time.

This discussion must be held in Greece, alongside adiscussion on the mandatory vaccination of special categories of workers, the prime minister said.

"In conclusion, things are going much better as regards the pandemic. Obviously, vigilance remains essential, because we are not done with this adventure yet, and our focus must be on convincing our skeptical fellow citizens that they too must take the step and get vaccinated. The vaccine is a gift of science and above all, it protects themselves and their families from the risk of a very serious hospitalisation. But it is also an act of social sensitivity," he underlined.

Sakellaropoulou: Constitution in no way recognises the right of one person to endanger the life and health of another

"I am glad about the news, which I am also watching, on the course of the pandemic. The reduction in the number of intubations and cases as time goes on. I hope the news will be even better soon. It is very important that the vaccination programme is progressing and we have reached 6 million vaccinations," the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Tuesday, during her meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

"I find it encouraging that young people seem to be steering clear of ideologies and phobias and joining in the vaccination at a significant rate, precisely in order to regain the freedom that we have been deprived of all this time, at least in terms of social behavior," she added. "There is an issue here – you also raised it – I am also referring to the Constitution and constitutional rights. Apart from the protection of public health, the Constitution in no way recognises the right of one person to endanger the life and health of another. Therefore, the limit to the freedom of our choices is our neighbour, it is the other," she said, noting that approaches advocating otherwise were "very wrong" and not "seriously supported by Constitutionalists or …anyone, for that matter."

She also stressed that this concerned people working in places where they come into contact with very large numbers of people, especially vulnerable people.

"The more we come into contact with vulnerable groups or the wider population, the more difficult things are," she said. She added that "the issue of making vaccination mandatory definitely needs to be discussed, but imposing obligations so as not to damage this sense of social solidarity and the sense of social responsibility – to which you referred – is I think self-evident, and that is why this debate is already starting in other countries."

Sakellaropoulou finally wished that everyone will realise "that the only way for each of us, regardless of age is vaccination, so we can get back all those things that we have been deprived of for so long and have security for the future. Because no one can promise us anything regarding possible next waves (of the pandemic)."

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