Greece, very keen to speed up the vaccination rollout across the country, announced on Monday that young people aged 18-25 will receive a prepaid card with 150 euros when they get their first shot of a vaccine.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mistsotakis announced the initiative, dubbed the “Freedom Pass,” saying that it represents an award for this age group that has more recently been affected by the coronavirus.
“It is time for the state to reward an age group affected by the coronavirus. I am talking about the 940,000 young people aged 18-25,” Mitsotakis noted, adding: “From today a window of freedom opens for their free time. With the first vaccination dose, they will get a prepaid card with 150 euros for travel and cultural events.”
The Freedom Pass will cover costs in travel and entertainment, such as plane and ferry tickets; hotel bookings; music, theatre and cinema events; and fees for museums and archaeological sites.
“This is a debt to our youth, a gift of gratitude, particularly ahead of the summer. (It is) a ‘thank you’ for their patience and perseverance,” the PM told the ministers at the televised message.
Appealing to the younger generation, Mitsotakis said that safety precautions are paramount: “We keep masks on when we are in a crowded place. I call on our girls and boys to seize this opportunity and get vaccinated.”
Οι νέοι 18-25 ετών με την 1η δόση του εμβολίου, αποκτούν μια προπληρωμένη κάρτα €150 για χρήση σε τουριστικές και πολιτιστικές δραστηριότητες. Είναι ένα ευχαριστώ για την υπομονή και επιμονή τους, αλλά και ένα κίνητρο για να εμβολιαστούν. #freedom_pass pic.twitter.com/5Mp3cO6W6e
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) June 28, 2021
Government bribes young people, says opposition
Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance accused Mitsotakis of attempting to bribe young people and asked him to stop dividing the citizens with privileges for the vaccinated.
In its announcement, SYRIZA said “Mitsotakis after turning the young people’s lives into a living hell in the last year and a half, is now attempting to bribe them with 150 euros. He treats them like fish that will take the bait and not as citizens with rights.
“To bite and forget the authoritarianism and the beatings in the squares and the unprecedented exclusion of thousands of pupils from the state universities for the sake of private colleges while constantly targeting them for spreading the pandemic”.
However, SYRIZA urges all people to get vaccinated in order to build a wall of immunity, “regardless of the insulting gifts and privileges”.
Gift to youngsters “an invitation for a return to normalcy”
The pre-paid “Freedom Pass” is an invitation for a return to normalcy, Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis said on Monday. He urged young people to take advantage of the offer to get the card.
The Greek Prime Minister was also upbeat about the battle against coronavirus in Greece, saying: “After 16 months of fighting the coronavirus, the country seems to be winning the battle by always staying vigilant,” he said.
In recent days Greek health officials have expressed concern over a possible fourth wave of coronavirus in the country, where the Delta variant could become dominant.
Concern in Greece on vaccinations and Delta variant
Health experts have warned that the current rate of vaccination is not sufficient to beat back the coronavirus, and the Delta variant in particular. Only about one-third of the population in Greece is fully inoculated, according to official data on the website emvolio.gr.
Greece has administered more than 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, but health officials said at least 70 percent of people living in the country must be fully protected.
Last week, the president of the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) warned that Greece may see the Delta strain spread very quickly, becoming the dominant strain in the nation by the end of August.
“It is very likely that the delta variant will circulate heavily this summer,” declared ECDC Director Andrea Ammon.