Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday that all citizens 60 or over must be vaccinated or face a 100-euro fine in the government’s latest an attempt to stem the spread of Covid-19 without going into lockdown.
“Greeks over the age of 60 who have not been vaccinated must by January 16 book an appointment for their first dose or else they will face a 100-euro administrative fine every month,” he said during a cabinet meeting.
The number of Covid-19 cases in Greece is increasing, with the national public health authority reporting 6,677 new coronavirus cases and 104 deaths in the last 24-hour period.
The regulation is set to take effect on January 16. Collected monthly fines will be used to fund hospitals, he said.
Mitsotakis also announced that self-tests would be available free of charge to everyone during the holiday season – from December 6 to 12 and between January 3 and 7. Health Minister Thanos Plevris is expected to make relevant announcements on Wednesday.
According to data, about 63 percent of the country’s population has been vaccinated against Covid. Health authorities say however that despite an increase in the number of booked appointments for vaccination, people in the 60+ category are still not showing up.
“We are focusing our efforts on protection of our fellow citizens and for this reason vaccination will be mandatory from now on,” said Mitsotakis.
The prime minister also called for vigilance with regard to the emergence of the Omicron variant, which he said “sooner or later” would be making its way to Greece. “We will know more about this variant in two weeks’ time,” he said. “That’s why we must continue to implement our policy even faster. In other words, we must save time.”
Meanwhile, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky said on Monday that all US adults “should” get a Covid vaccine booster. Last week, EU authorities proposed a revision to non-essential travel rules, giving priority to vaccinated travelers and advising them to get booster shots against the deadly virus if they wish to extend the validity of their EU Digital Covid Certificate.