COVID MEASURES

New health safety rules put onus on the unvaccinated

new-health-safety-rules-put-onus-on-the-unvaccinated

Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias on Tuesday unveiled a raft of new public health safety measures that go into effect on September 13 and foresee tough restrictions on individuals that have not been vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Under the new rules, unvaccinated workers in private and public sector offices and businesses will have to undergo regular testing, at their own expense, once a week. At schools and universities, but also in other sectors where they come into contact with large numbers of people – such as tourism, catering, television and theater – they will have to take two rapid tests a week.

University students that have not had the shot will also have to take two rapid tests a week – paying for them out of pocket – while school pupils will also have to be tested twice a week, though using self-testing kits that will be provided free of charge.

The cost of rapid tests will be set at 10 euros, Kikilias added. 

The results of all tests must be posted on the relevant government website, with proof of a negative result being printed out and produced for admission. In the event of a positive result, the individual will be given instructions for further testing and self-isolation.

As far as entertainment goes, admission to cafes, restaurants, clubs and sports venues will not be allowed without proof of Covid-19 vaccination or recovery, while patrons at cinemas, theaters, museums and gyms without an immunity certificate will have to display a negative PCR test taken up to 48 hours earlier to gain admission, the minister said.

It was not clear whether the measures would also apply to churches and other places of worship.

“These measures are not punitive. They are our duty to all those who went through 18 months of the pandemic carefully, those who lost their shops, jobs, had to work from home to protect themselves,” Kikilias said.

“Unlike in autumn last year, when humanity was confronted with Covid-19 without other defenses apart from the known protection measures, this autumn each of us can protect themselves and protect others. Vaccines have been available for eight months, giving us a choice that we did not have before,” he said.

The new rules also give employers the right to demand proof of vaccination from employees working in close quarters with other members of staff. 

Masks, meanwhile, will be mandatory in all indoor public settings and in crowded outdoor areas, while free tests at public facilities will be limited only to people who have already been vaccinated or are displaying clear symptoms of Covid-19.