The new coronavirus safety measures announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday should not be seen as a punishment against the unvaccinated but as a bid to avert another total lockdown, government officials said on Friday morning.
Speaking at a press conference, Health Minister Thanos Plevris and the general secretary for commerce and consumer protection, Sotiris Anagnostopoulos, fleshed out the details of the measures and stressed that the new restrictions, which go into effect on Monday, reinforce the government’s commitment to keeping the economy open.
The new measures include staggered shifts at public and private offices, starting from between 7 a.m. and 9.30 a.m., to relieve congestion on public transportation and make physical distancing easier in the workplace. Retail stores, meanwhile, will open later, at 10 a.m., and close at 9 p.m. (on weekdays) for the same reason.
There are three categories of public venues under the new system, the officials explained.
The first concerns essential outlets like pharmacies, supermarkets and other food stores that are open to everyone regardless of vaccination status.
The second includes schools and other educational institutions, places of worship, retail stores, hair and beauty salons, and open-air cafes and bars, where the unvaccinated must show a valid certificate of recovery from Covid-19 or a recent negative PCR or rapid test. The vaccinated also have to show a certificate at the door. Both categories will also need to show ID.
Indoor entertainment and leisure venues like restaurants, museums, theaters and cinemas — but also gyms — make up the third category, where admission is restricted exclusively to patrons with a valid vaccination or recovery certificate and ID.
Minors aged 4-17 must show a negative self-test taken within 24 hours of admission to any of the venues in the second and third category, Plevris said, noting that vaccines are not authorized for many people in this age group.