New year to bring curbs on nightlife and sports, minister indicates
As new Covid safety measures requiring masks outdoors and a double or FFP2 mask at public indoor venues like supermarkets and stores, and also on public transportation, went into effect, Health Minister Thanos Plevris indicated that more restrictions will be imposed right after the holidays, in anticipation of a new spike in infections geared by the more transmissible Omicron variant.
In a television interview on Friday morning, Plevris confirmed that the government is mulling a 15-day period of stricter measures after New Year’s to stem the spread of the virus, adding that these will most likely target crowded leisure activities where people tend to become lax about safety precautions.
“Typical food and drink venues are not really super-spreaders; what are, are venues that are more geared towards entertainment, like nightclubs basically,” he told Open TV.
“No decisions have been made, but the philosophy is to impose [stricter] operating hours or other measures like banning standing room, for example. These are the kinds of interventions we will be looking at for a 15-day period,” the minister said, adding that the government is expected to discuss the way forward on Monday.
“We believe that the interventions will be mild. I understand that this is a sector that has been hurt, which is why we are trying to ensure that they come at the least damaging time,” he said.
Plevris also hinted at restrictions being imposed at sporting events, saying that violations of mask-wearing and social distancing rules are rampant at soccer games especially.
“If this phenomenon continues, we’ll go to more comprehensive measures, meaning that no or only a few will be able to attend matches,” he said, referring to fans.
The minister also insisted that there are no plans to shut down schools or amend health safety protocols.