With the daily infection rate of the coronavirus smashing a new record Tuesday with a staggering 6,700 confirmed cases, the highest since the pandemic began, the government Tuesday announced a tightening of restrictions and more testing for unvaccinated people to stem the tide.
It was the second consecutive day of record-high infection numbers, breaking Monday’s single-day record of 5,449 cases.
The situation is particularly critical in many parts of central and northern Greece, where the occupancy rate of Covid hospital beds reaching 100%, with authorities stressing that measures must be “adapted to the new data.”
More specifically, unvaccinated people will need to produce a negative rapid or PCR test to enter banks, public offices, retail outlets, mixed entertainment venues and hairdressers. This rule will not apply to grocery stores, supermarkets and religious spaces.
“The restrictions will apply to the unvaccinated, as they are much more at risk and there must be measures to protect them,” said Health Minister Thanos Plevris, adding that the new measures will take effect on Saturday.
These also include the provision that all unvaccinated employees in the private and public sectors will be required to take two Covid tests per week (rapid or PCR).
Fines are also being made stiffer for violations. Plevris said there will be “zero tolerance for those who admit unvaccinated people” without a negative test into areas that are covered by the relevant restrictions, like bars and restaurants. Business owners could face fines of €5,000 and having their premises closed for 10 days for breaking the rules.
In terms of infrastructure to cope with the new spike, the health minister announced the doubling of ICU beds for Covid patients at public hospitals to 1,300.
In response to lagging vaccination rates, meanwhile, Plevris said that text messages will be sent to individuals’ mobile phones with information on the merits of inoculation as part of a new campaign. With about 60.5% of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Greece is below the EU average of 64.7%.
Plevris added the vaccination platform for the third dose for adults over the age of 18 will open on Friday. People can get their booster six months after their second shot.