ATHENS – Moving to try to slow a resurging COVID-19 pandemic spread by anti-vaxxers, Greece’s New Democracy government said the unvaccinated will have to show proof of a negative rapid or PCR molecular test to enter more public areas.
That includes banks, public offices, retail outlets, mixed entertainment venues and hairdressers, under rules hastily brought after a new record 6,700 cases on Nov. 2 spooked the government.
But despite breaking dangerous ground which led to an emergency meeting with his panel of health advisors, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis again stopped short of ordering mandatory shots as he said he would if the pandemic worsened.
New Health Minister Thanos Plevris, who has no experience in the field, announced the new record and said the unvaccinated would now face tighter restrictions although the government had until now allowed them to be in some mixed venues with the vaccinated.
“The restrictions will apply to the unvaccinated, as they are much more at risk and there must be measures to protect them,” he said, adding that the new measures will take effect on Nov. 6 without explaining why it wasn’t immediate.
Under the new rules, all unvaccinated employees in the private and public sectors will be required to take two COVID tests per week (a rapid or PCR test) at their own cost, which had been set at 10 euros ($11.58) per test.
The tests will not, however, be required to go into supermarkets, churches or religious spaces which continue to be exempted from mixed measures that have failed to work against the Coronavirus health crisis.
While existing measures haven’t been fully enforced in the face of opposition from rabid and sometimes violent anti-vaxxers, Plevris said fines would be increased and police would crack down after backing off.
He said there will be “zero tolerance for those who admit unvaccinated people” without tests into spaces covered by the rules although the government has made similar warnings that weren’t fully implemented.