Mask-wearing in all public spaces and outdoors is mandatory in Greece after the country’s Covid-19 committee decided to postpone its decision on the matter this week.
The committee will re-examine the issue next week.
Topping the agenda instead were health protocols to be implemented ahead of the country’s official opening to tourists in March, as well as passenger caps on buses and limits in public services. The committee also recommended allowing trips for seniors’ clubs (KAPI) only for the vaccinated.
Covid experts said they decided to continue the mask rule in view of potential Covid variants. Speaking to public television ERT, Professor of Internal Medicine Helen Giamarellou said it was too early to do away with the mask. “We will monitor the situation and decide,” she said.
Chairman of the Greek Medical Association Athanasios Exadaktylos said he expected the measure (for outdoor spaces only) to be lifted after Clean Monday (March 7), adding however that in any case crowded spaces require masks and that it was “erroneous to think of mask wearing outdoors as not being useful”.
The majority of health experts are concerned about lifting measures too early for fear it would send out a wrong message, particularly ahead of popular holidays such as Carnival, Easter, and the March 25th national holiday.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Thanos Plevris reiterated that authorities were aiming to lift Covid-19 measures by the end of March but only for those who are vaccinated, adding again however that “the pandemic has not ended”.
“I believe that by the end of March, measures that apply to the vaccinated will have been lifted. Some precautions, such as mask use and safe distancing, will continue to apply. For those who are not vaccinated, the measures will remain,” he said.
It should be reminded that unvaccinated individuals cannot enter bars, restaurants and entertainment venues and are allowed access only to establishments operating outdoors as long as they provide a negative rapid test. They are also banned from stadiums, theaters, cinemas, museums, conferences and gyms.
In the last 24-hour period, Greece’s national public health organization reported 16,962 new Covid cases and 53 deaths.