NEWS

Stricter testing on the table for holiday season

Government examining obligatory diagnostics for entry to entertainment venues

stricter-testing-on-the-table-for-holiday-season

With the Omicron variant at the gates and the threat of a new pandemic very real, the government is preparing to take new measures of deterrence, focusing on New Year’s Eve, which traditionally gathers large crowds in nightclubs.

More specifically, Kathimerini understands that it will opt for stricter testing on the night with the most probable scenario being that people will have to take a negative rapid test to enter all entertainment venues.

This essentially means that no one will enter shops, clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants without a negative test. 

Given that unvaccinated people are already not allowed to enter indoor venues, universal testing will concern the vaccinated, whether they have done one, two or three doses. The cost of the rapid test will be borne by those who undergo it. 

The committee of experts is expected to meet later on Tuesday to discuss the specific context and make the final decisions. 

However, there is concern that the measures may backfire as a large portion of people will choose to spend New Year’s Eve at the homes of friends or relatives, where compliance with protection measures – testing, distances etc – is not controlled and overcrowding is very possible.

With the implementation of the measure, the government seeks to achieve two goals. On the one hand to ensure that a very large number of people are tested at the beginning of the new year and on the other to curb the spread of the virus as much as possible. The ultimate goal is to prepare, given that all indications suggest that the Omicron variant will establish a strong foothold in Greece as well.

At the moment, the pandemic is in recession in Greece, with government sources pointing out to Kathimerini that every day the fifth wave is delayed is a profit, as thousands of additional citizens are added to the vaccination wall.

An additional measure the government will take to delay the fifth wave is tough policing during the holiday season.

In the coming days more than 10,000 police officers will be on the streets to monitor the implementation of the measures. The same logic was behind the decision to allow entry to Greece during the holidays only with a molecular test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival or a rapid test no more than 24 hours before.