Milder rules for New Year’s Eve revelry

Plans for rapid tests to enter entertainment venues scrapped in favor of self-diagnostics

Milder rules for New Year’s Eve revelry

Even though the government had reportedly almost made up its mind on Sunday to introduce the obligation for vaccinated people to take a registered rapid test at a pharmacy or testing center before entering entertainment venues on New Year’s Eve, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced something much milder Tuesday.

Instead of a rapid test, everyone, vaccinated or not, will have to have a self-test. For the vaccinated, there will be no obligation but a “strong recommendation.” 

The self-testing kits will be available at pharmacies for people who have a social security number (AMKA).

“It is true that I was advised to introduce mandatory rapid tests for everybody for admission to all leisure and entertainment venues. I rejected the proposal because I thought the measure would be unfair to the vaccinated and ultimately too difficult to implement,” Mitsotakis told the cabinet.

“So instead of imposing something on everyone, I chose to trust everyone,” he added

Among the obstacles posed regarding the rapid tests were questions related to logistics. For example, whether the rapid test should be done 48 or 72 hours before entering an enclosed space. The former would be difficult to implement as the system would have to deal with about 2 million tests in less than two days, something that has never been done before.

Speaking to the cabinet, Mitsotakis unveiled a “two-phase plan,” whereby the first phase foresees citizens testing in large numbers before and after gatherings to ensure they’re not spreading the virus. 

“We want to spend the holidays in safety, without bringing the economy and society to a standstill, and without having to pay for our holiday activities afterward,” he said.

The second phase of the plan will kick in after the holidays and will depend on the country’s performance. “Everything will depend on the data at the time. Nothing has been decided yet,” he said.

Mitsotakis indicated that restrictions may be introduced in the first couple of weeks of the new year, such as expanding work-from-home schemes and changing the opening hours of bars and restaurants, but he ruled out the possibility of schools being closed.

“Tests and basic precautions are our defense. And our stance today will determine the decisions taken tomorrow,” Mitsotakis added.

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