NEWS

Mandatory shots for other groups on ice

Plans for compulsory inoculation of more staff categories shelved at least until end-August

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The government has decided to refrain from imposing additional restrictions and, above all, compulsory vaccination for occupational categories other than health care workers and nursing home staff, at least until the end of August, when it can better assess the progress of the inoculation program and the course of the pandemic.

If by that time the coveted wall of immunity is seen as being within reach, additional steps in relation to compulsory vaccinations, particularly in education, will be shelved.

However, if health authorities forecast an explosion of cases at the start of the fall and renewed pressure on the national health system, which could also lead to new lockdown measures, the government will not hesitate to extend mandatory vaccination to other categories of workers, as provided in the relevant amendment that was voted last Thursday in Parliament.

More specifically, these categories will also include the police, the coast guard, the fire brigade and workers employed in the energy, water supply and public transport sectors.

The final decisions regarding mandatory vaccinations will be made after August 23, when Parliament reopens after the summer break, as new legislation will be required.

The main source of concern are teachers, to whom Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has made a direct appeal to get vaccinated. The government acknowledges that educators have responded more than many other groups and have so far been vaccinated at a high rate (75%). On the other hand, it is obvious that if a teacher gets infected, and is forced to quarantine, it will hinder the educational process in his or her department.

Meanwhile, the government also reportedly plans to extend the measure stipulating that only the vaccinated and those who have already been ill and recovered will be allowed in indoor restaurants and entertainment venues from August 31 and until September 30 at least.

As things stand, the government estimates that daily cases may even reach 5,000 in August.

At the same time, however, it is cautiously optimistic that the pressure on the health system will be under control as a large part of the daily cases concern younger ages who usually do need many days of hospitalization and, most importantly, rarely need intensive care.