The government’s announcements on Tuesday of particularly strict measures beginning on September 13 essentially amount to a lockdown for the unvaccinated, amid the growing threat of the Delta variant, which has already led to a large increase in cases, foretelling a difficult autumn ahead.
The announcements coincided with a new record since the beginning of the pandemic of 4,608 coronavirus cases in one day. What’s more, another 32 deaths were confirmed while 326 patients were intubated.
The government hopes that the exclusion of those who refuse to be vaccinated from indoor entertainment venues combined with the financial cost of a rapid test will increase vaccination rates.
However, given the will of the government not to test the resilience of the National Health System and disrupt the dynamic course, in recent months, of the economy, it is now seriously entertaining the notion of extending mandatory vaccinations to other social and professional categories.
This is also seen as a likely scenario, given that the government’s goal, as articulated by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias on Tuesday, is to reach an additional 1 million vaccinations.
The first of these categories under consideration is the armed forces and uniformed law enforcement followed by frontline civil servants.
Under the new rules announced, 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 have to be tested twice a week too, but 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.
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 of cinemas, theaters, museums and gyms without a vaccination or immunity certificate will have to display a negative PCR test taken up to 48 hours earlier to gain admission, the minister said.