NEWS

Greece brings back face masks outdoors, cancels public festivities to stem infections

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The Greek government announced on Thursday new measures ahead of Christmas and New Year’s to prevent Covid infections and indicated that more restrictions are in the pipeline in the new year when the Omicron variant is expected to start spreading more widely.

“Omicron is in our country,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris said during a special briefing on Thursday.

As of Friday morning, masks will be obligatory in both indoor and outdoor areas – including churches – while a double mask or a KN95 will be required to travel in public transport or visit a supermarket.

All public festivities planned by municipalities in the coming days are canceled to avoid overcrowding.

The new recommended measures will also affect travelers with people who have entered Greece being “strongly recommended” to undergo mandatory testing (rapid or PCR) on the second and fourth day after their arrival.

Plevris also issued a “strong recommendation” for people to get tested before any gathering with friends and family.

Plevris said these measures, that will take effect at 6 a.m. on Friday and continue until January 2, “are enough to celebrate Christmas and New Years safely.”

After January 3, the government will introduce more restrictive measures that will affect entertainment, sports events, and non-essential activities, he said, but clarified that these do not include local or general lockdowns or a return of the SMS system for leaving the house.

Early ideas also include increasing remote working.

The announcements follow the recommendations made by the scientific committee advising the government on the handling of the pandemic.