Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
The Greek government has decided to abolish most restrictive measures for vaccinated individuals, including "red" zone areas, which is the highest alert on a scale measuring the incidence of coronavirus cases.
From this Saturday onward, there will neither be curfews nor a ban on music at indoor catering and entertainment venues in red-coded areas, the government decided Wednesday. Additionally, across the country, there will be no limit to the number of patrons allowed into entertainment venues that have a vaccinated-only policy. This means that in these venues there will be no minimum distance between tables and no ban on standing customers.
Skeptics noted that the pandemic is far from over,...unfettered entertainment, if only for the vaccinated, is wrong...
In venues that do not enforce the vaccinated-only policy, distancing and a ban on standing customers will continue.
Health Minister Thanos Plevris, Alternate Minister Mina Gaga and newly appointed head of the National Public Health Organization Professor Theoklis Zaoutis, who announced the new policy on Wednesday afternoon, said that the policy will be revisited in 15 days and that the government will also assess limitations imposed in other public spaces and activities. The guiding principle will be that the vaccinated should be free to go about as they please and that the unvaccinated need protection, the officials said.
But some members of the Committee of Experts advising the government on the pandemic expressed their skepticism at a meeting that preceded the announcements.
Skeptics noted that the pandemic is far from over, a fact borne out by the designation as “red” of a wide area of the country. They also said that the message of unfettered entertainment, if only for the vaccinated, is wrong and pointed to the difficulty in ensuring that only people who have had their shots enter indoor spaces.
The dissenting experts pointed out that lifting measures in areas labeled "red" zones will lead to the pandemic lasting longer than it would otherwise.
A government spokesperson said on Thursday that the easing of the restrictive measures even in regions at the highest alert due to a high number of coronavirus infections was “necessary".
Yiannis Oikonomou said, “Those who have been vaccinated must get their lives back. We must not issue messages that confuse people or are contrary to common sense,” he added, citing as an example a controversial requirement for vaccinated patients to take a rapid test to go to the dentist, which was quickly repealed by the government.
Oikonomou said the easing of restrictions “does not mean that we are finished with the coronavirus,” adding that unvaccinated individuals should look at the data of hospitalizations “to be convinced.”
The number of fatalities from Covid-19 in Greece on Wednesday surpassed the 15,000 mark, reaching 15,012, after health authorities announced 21 deaths from the disease. New infections eased to 2,331 from 2,876 on Tuesday, with the overall number since the start of the pandemic at 668,811. There were 347 intubated patients, up from 334 the day before.