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Greece Drops Face Mask Requirement in Outdoor Spaces

Greece face masks, coronavirus, self-tests
Greece is no longer enforcing mandatory face masks in outdoor spaces. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece will no longer enforce the use of mandatory face masks in outdoor spaces according to an announcement made by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday.

The Committee of Experts on the coronavirus situation met earlier in the day in order to discuss the current epidemiological picture and suggest what the country’s next move should be.

Greece no longer requires face masks

Speaking on Wednesday, the announcement was made by the Deputy Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias, the Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and member of the Committee of Experts Vana Papaevangelou, and the Deputy Minister of Health Vassilis Kontozamanis.

The panel of specialists decided that due to the improving coronavirus numbers in Greece, face masks need no longer be worn when walking or spending time outdoors. However, they stipulated that they should still be worn in crowded spaces, regardless of whether they are indoors or outdoors.

“We should not throw away our masks — our logic shows us what remains necessary,” Papaevangelou stressed, warning the public to remain vigilant.

Another measure which has been done away with is the nighttime curfew. This measure has been maligned by restaurateurs and patrons alike, as it forced all activity to stop by 12:30 AM, which most did not find to be late enough. Now, Greece has announced that it will no longer be enforcing a nighttime traffic ban.

Up to ten people will also be allowed to sit together at a restaurant or cafe, up from the previous restriction of only six people per table.

The new normal

Even more restrictions were lifted on Wednesday, including the obligation to conduct regular coronavirus self-tests for vaccinated citizens. Currently, workers across the service industry are required to take a test once a week and input their results onto an online platform.

All those who work in the retail sector, in transport, in restaurants, and hairdressers all currently need to conduct weekly self-tests. Workers who do not undergo the self tests are fined 300 euros, and if they do not report the results of their test on the government’s online platform, they are hit with a 500 euro fine.

The new measures, however, make a distinction between fully vaccinated workers, who will no longer be required to take such tests, and unvaccinated workers, who are expected to continue reporting their results to the online platform.

During the announcement, Papaevangelou highlighted that the positivity rate on self-tests has fallen to 1.3%. “Self-tests have been instrumental in controlling the third wave,” she said, adding that the number of active cases was 4,100.

Furthermore, wedding receptions can now be attended by up to 400 people, which is symbolic of a return to normalcy. Meanwhile, organized beaches will be able to allow 120 people per 1,000 square meters (10,763 square feet) of beach.

Greece’s coronavirus situation has been improving steadily, with new case numbers dropping rapidly since the beginning of the warmer month of June. The easing of restrictions comes just in time to appease locals and tourists alike, and to enable all to have a fun, covid-safe summer.

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