The Greek government on Thursday announced five new measures as part of its efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic following the emergence of the Omicron variant in the country.
Speaking during a press conference, Health Minister Thanos Plevris said Greece would take additional measures based on the recommendations of its health experts committee in order to reduce the risk of an increase in Covid-19 cases during the holidays.
The following new measures will be in force from 6am on Friday and run until January 2:
– all holiday events announced by municipal authorities in open spaces (such as festivals) will be canceled
– mandatory wearing of masks both indoors and outdoors (the measure also concerns closed spaces such as restaurants and gyms)
– mandatory wearing of increased protection masks (KN95) or double masks in supermarkets and public transport
– all citizens should conduct a self test prior to attending social events or gatherings (government recommendation).
Inbound travelers ‘strongly recommended’ to test after arrival
Plevris also said that travelers entering Greece should perform a rapid or PCR test for Covid-19 on the second and fourth day after their arrival. “They are strongly recommended to do so,” he said.
This is an addition to existing rules that require for all inbound travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to present a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result taken before entering the country. (PCR tests should be performed within 72 hours before travel and rapid antigen tests should be performed within 24 hours before travel.)
New measures after Jan 3
Greece’s health expert committee will convene again on December 27 to re-evaluate the epidemiological data and examine the potential of implementing a new set of measures after January 3.
These may include restrictions on opening hours for F&B and entertainment venues; restrictions on sports events and non-essential activities; and increased teleworking.
Omicron cases increasing
During the press conference, Plevris also warned that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible with an increasing number of incidents recorded in Greece during the last two days.
Health authorities are examining whether high transmission is related to overcrowding due to the holiday season or to other factors.
Meanwhile, according to Plevris, 70 percent of Greece’s population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or will soon complete vaccination. The percentage is higher among the adult population at 80 percent.
Furthermore, over 72 percent of Greeks have taken the booster shot or have already booked an appointment.
Greece on Wednesday announced 5,641 new Covid-19 cases and 69 deaths.