NEWS

The vaccinated can roam almost free

Some experts fear lifting of restrictions from Saturday is premature, warn pandemic not tamed

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The Greek government has decided to abolish most restrictive measures for vaccinated individuals, even in areas labeled “red,” the highest alert on a scale measuring the incidence of coronavirus cases.

From this Saturday onward, there will be neither curfews nor a ban on music at indoor catering and entertainment venues in red-coded areas, the government decided Wednesday. Additionally, across the country, there will be no limit on the number of patrons allowed into entertainment venues that have a vaccinated-only policy. This means that in these venues there will be no minimum distance between tables and no ban on standing customers.

In venues that do not enforce the vaccinated-only policy, distancing and a ban on standing customer will continue.

Health Minister Thanos Plevris, Alternate Minister Mina Gaga and newly appointed head of the National Public Health Organization Professor Theoklis Zaoutis, who announced the new policy on Wednesday afternoon, said that the policy will be revisited in 15 days and that the government will also assess limitations imposed in other public spaces and activities. The guiding principle will be that the vaccinated should be free to go about as they please and that the unvaccinated need protection, the officials said.

But some members of the Committee of Experts advising the government on the pandemic expressed their skepticism at a meeting that preceded the announcements.

The skeptics noted that the pandemic is far from vanquished, a fact borne out by the designation as “red” of a wide swath of the country. They also said that the message of limitless entertainment, if only for the vaccinated, is wrong and pointed to the difficulty in ensuring that only people who have had their shots enter indoor spaces.

The dissenting experts pointed out that decoupling the labeling of an area as one of high coronavirus incidence from any measures to be taken will lead to the pandemic lasting longer than it would otherwise.

The number of fatalities from Covid-19 in Greece on Wednesday surpassed the 15,000 mark, reaching 15,012, after health authorities announced 21 deaths from the disease. New infections eased to 2,331 from 2,876 on Tuesday, with the overall number since the start of the pandemic at 668,811. There were 347 intubated patients, up from 334 the day before.