Greece is entering a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic as the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations drop, Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris told a press briefing on Wednesday.
As Greece moves ahead with the gradual de-escalation of measures, dropping the vaccination and recovery certificate requirement on May 1 and the mask requirement on June 1, Plevris underlined that the country – as all of Europe – was not planning on imposing a “zero covid” policy as in China.
Instead, the minister underlined, Greece was focusing its efforts against the spread of Covid on vaccination. He added that vaccination coverage, the high number of infected and recovering citizens and a reinforced national health system were the main reasons authorities decided to enter “this new era with non-mandatory measures”.
Plevris went on to add that at least 1.5 billion euros of RRF funds would be going into the public health system and reiterated that the government’s health experts would closely be monitoring Covid developments.
He added that Greece was close to the EU average in terms of vaccination with some 75 percent vaccinated and over 90 percent in the vulnerable groups.
National Public Health Organization (EODY) President Theoklis Zaoutis confirmed the drop in Covid cases in the last two weeks, adding that Covid-related admissions had dropped by 20 percent and hospitalizations by 37 percent.
“The epidemiological situation in addition to the data justifies the relaxation of measures as ICU hospitalizations drop and social life returns… This does not make us complacent because the focus should be on the citizen. We are entering the management phase of the pandemic from May 1, but are ready to intervene whenever necessary,” he said.
Lastly, Plevris reiterated that Covid measures are being lifted temporarily until September, when the situation will be reassessed. The same, he said, will apply to the face mask rule.
Covid measures in brief:
– admission to venues will be allowed without the display of vaccination or recovery certificates as of May 1 and through to August 31
– self tests for students will no longer be required starting May 1
– masks will no longer be mandatory indoors as of June 1. The health ministry is expected to announce some exceptions shortly. (According to reports, masks will remain mandatory in hospitals, public transport, taxis, ferries (indoors), intercity trains and KTEL buses.)
– unvaccinated employees will be required to take one rapid test per week for access to their work space as of May 1 and the telework options no longer applies
– all venues will be able to operate at full capacity (100 percent) starting on May 1
– retroactively from April 15, 100-euro fines imposed on unvaccinated seniors 60 years or older will be suspended.
With regard to the Greek Easter holiday on April 24, the minister said earlier this week that current measures apply and strongly recommended the use of face masks in crowded spaces. He added that all Orthodox services will be allowed for the first time in the two years of Covid with adherence to protocols.
In the last 24-hour period, Greece reported 7,365 Covid-19 cases and 64 deaths.