[Anti-mask protesters gathered in Thessaloniki on Sunday. Intime News]
A movement by parents and others against a government regulation obliging children to wear face masks when they return to school next week is gathering pace, with online groups drawing thousands of members and street protests being organized in a bid to derail the project.
Some parents are threatening to keep their children home in a bid to pressure the Education Ministry into withdrawing the measure, Kathimerini understands. And some working parents have said they are planning to entrust their children to unemployed friends or acquaintances to keep them out of school.
On Sunday street protests were held in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Patra, Iraklio, Zakynthos as well as other parts of the country. In Thessaloniki, some participants in the rally waved Greek flags and chanted nationalist slogans with a group of black-clad demonstrators verbally abusing journalists and two people believed to be migrants. New rallies are planned for this coming weekend ahead of the scheduled reopening of schools on Monday.
According to Giannis Mavrogiorgos, a strategic communications expert, the #NoMasks movement on social media may have been partially bolstered by its detractors. “Perhaps all of us who write angry posts against the deniers of masks and vaccines… instead of making them see reason, are simply magnifying their impact on public dialogue,” he told Kathimerini.
The National Organization of Public Health (EODY) has launched a campaign to try to educate both parents and teachers about the importance of face masks to counter the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to it in Parliament yesterday during a debate on his government’s response to the pandemic. “It is not pleasant to wear a mask for many hours, but it is necessary,” he said, adding that masks are the “surest proven means” of protection.