PM defends latest measures, rules out general lockdown

PM defends latest measures, rules out general lockdown

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has defended his government’s decision to tighten restrictions on unvaccinated people to stem the spread of coronavirus as new daily cases set a new record Tuesday, while ruling out the possibility of a new nationwide lockdown.

“Now that the vaccine is available, economic and social activity will not be shut down,” he said Wednesday. 

Mitsotakis added that the government did not want to deprive vaccinated people of rights that were granted to them after following the safety recommendations of scientists and of the state.

“Meanwhile, those who have not yet safeguarded [their health] with the vaccine will need to undergo stricter monitoring, with more frequent testing, so as to protect themselves and the people around them,” he said.

According to measures announced Tuesday by Health Minister Thanos Plevris, as of Saturday all unvaccinated people will be obliged to display a recent negative test to enter all indoor public areas, including banks, most shops, government buildings and hair salons. The same will apply to outdoor restaurant areas and cafes. Exceptions will be made for supermarkets, shops selling food, pharmacies and places of worship.

All public and private sector employees will also have to display negative tests twice a week to enter their workplaces, instead of once as is now the case.

Plevris said police inspections for breaches of the new restrictions would be stepped up, with business owners facing higher fines, starting from 5,000 euros ($5,800). 

The government will also launch a new public awareness campaign on vaccinations, sending text messages to people who haven’t been inoculated.

Greece recorded 6,700 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, the highest single-day figure since the pandemic began early last year. Another 59 people died from coronavirus, taking the total to 16,050 among 754,451 Covid-19 cases. A total of 434 patients remained intubated in intensive care units. [Kathimerini, Reuters]

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