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Covid-19: Omicron Dampens Christmas Cheer in Greece, New Measures on the Table

Photo source: Athens Municipality

Greek authorities are examining the possibility of requiring vaccinated individuals to provide negative rapid test results in order to be allowed into closed spaces, following a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths over the past few weeks.

Despite reiterating that there will be no lockdown, the government is concerned about the new Omicron variant and its fast spread, particularly after the holidays in January. 

Following a meeting with health experts and Greek infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras, Health Minister Thanos Plevris confirmed that there would be no additional restrictions for Christmas, but said measures were on the table for New Year’s, including mandatory testing for vaccinated citizens.

Greece Intensifies Covid Inspections

He added that extensive inspections would be carried out and that any establishment not adhering to the rules and allowing unvaccinated individuals admission would “regret it”.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Plevris also said that the operation of shops and venues during Christmas would serve as a “pilot” for the New Year and determine relevant decisions.

Speaking during a weekly press conference, Government Spokesperson Yiannis Economou said mandatory testing for all regardless of vaccination status would apply only for certain days during the holidays in view of very large attendance expected at indoor entertainment venues and restaurants.

“If deemed necessary, we will discuss such a measure and announce it in due time,” he said, adding however that should such a decision take effect, the cost of testing would not be covered by the government but would be each individual’s responsibility.

“The dynamics of Omicron and emerging data may force us to take such measures to protect the vaccinated,” he added.

Final decisions are likely to be announced on Wednesday. The government has reiterated that it is addressing the new concerns with stringent inspections and efforts to increase vaccination reach.

Everyone Should Test Regardless of Vaccination Status 

Meanwhile, health authorities are expecting a surge in Omicron cases after the holiday period. Speaking on SKAI television, Greek infectious diseases expert Gkikas Magiorkinis confirmed fears of high infection rates in January, adding that the Omicron variant was not easily predictable. He added however that there was no need for additional measures as Greece is already ahead of other countries in terms of booster dose coverage.

The president of the Athens and Piraeus Hospital Doctors’ Association (EINAP), Matina Pagoni echoed Magiorkinis outlining what people should do during the holiday season. Pagoni suggested that eight to 10 people should attend festive dinners and events after testing negative for Covid-19 before.

“If we all want to be safe and at the same time have fun, I think [getting] tested is not that difficult,” she said.

Late last week, Greece updated rules for admission into the country, requiring all inbound travelers to provide negative Covid tests upon arrival.

Earlier this month, Albert Bourla, Greek-American veterinarian, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, told Lifo magazine, that a fourth dose of a Covid vaccine may be needed to “better protect” against the Omicron strain.

The National Public Health Organization (EODY) reported at least 26 Omicron infections on Crete, in Laconia and Attica which were not related to travel. In the last 24-hour period, EODY reported 2,831 new cases and 91 deaths.

Follow GTP Headlines on Google News to keep up to date with all the latest on tourism and travel in Greece.
About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.
  1. Martin Stringer Reply

    Wearing a mask outside again is a ridiculous waste of time. It is time we all got natural immunity and got on with our lives.

  2. Saviour visanich Reply

    This will never end. We already have had our third shot, the booster, and still we would need a neg test to travel to practically any country in Europe. I fully understand this, but it’s like a roller coaster ride, as soon as measures are loosened, the numbers shoot up.

  3. Dr Julia Carteri Reply

    ‘Devi Kilburn: no it is not. You are being pathetic and silly and unreasonable in the face of a global pandemic. You and I and everyone has responsibilities to keep each other safe. I am very glad to have tests and vaccines. It keeps us all safer. We are privileged and lucky to have access to them. Stop being a child.

  4. Donna Reply

    So the jabs mean nothing just about making money every jab doctor gets paid to administer
    And the company’s producing it ppl will just stay in to much fuss

  5. J.Wright Reply

    That is the point. Nothing whatsoever to do with the virus. It is for total control and introduction of the new financial system and the export from China of social credit (which is already in place to a certain degree)

  6. Luna Reply

    Deiv, by taking the jab you complied with the controllers. The only way to stop this nonesense is to resist. Live your life freely. You can’t comply your way out of tyranny.

  7. Joao Reply

    If will be mandatory to get a rapid test, so make it for free.

    • Vicki Hertz Reply

      It is free…pharmacies do not charge for the rapid test if you show your AMKA number.

  8. Angela Kulukundis Reply

    No one should have the “right” to infect others by selfishly refusing to adhere to regulations

  9. Nickdurham Reply

    What’s so important about the so-called ” human right” not to be tested, if that test helps keep you, and more important, other humans, safe.
    Do you prefer the ” freedom” to infect other people. Of course not. Some freedoms must trump others.

  10. R Ferguson Reply

    Get a life South Africa told the World its mild and if being very contagious is very good, why are Governments scaring people still its a disgrace.

  11. deiv kilby Reply

    What is the point of us being vaccinated and get a booster vaccine, like l have if we still have to get a rapid test to enter closed spaces. This is total control of our human rights and removal of our freedom

    • nicole Reply

      The point is to try not to die from Covid and stem the fast(er) spread of it, at the same time helping ease the pressure on intensive care units so less people die and the health care individuals can do their job without dying themselves from stress and exhaustion if not Covid.

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