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Greece Mulls Local Lockdowns Only for the Unvaccinated

Lockdown
Rapid tests in Monastiraki. Greece will not be placed under a national lockdown. Credit: Greek Reporter

Another nationwide coronavirus lockdown is not in the offing for Greece, according to Greece’s Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis, who made his remarks on Thursday in response to the spike in coronavirus infections around the country.

However, localized lockdowns — only for those who remain unvaccinated — may be imposed if the epidemiological situation does not improve.

In an interview with Skai TV on Thursday, Georgiadis emphasized that those Greek citizens who have been vaccinated will not face restrictions, since they are indeed protected from the virus.

Greek health authorities predict explosion in cases over next ten days

The Development Minister appeared to be extremely apprehensive regarding the Greek economy, which is so heavily reliant on tourism, given the the current situation. The  country is now experiencing thousands of new cases every day, just as it did during the height of the crisis months ago.

Greek epidemiologists have stated that they predict there will be a further explosion of cases in the next week to ten days.

Georgiadis made pains to point out that there will not be another national lockdown of the kind that was imposed for months at a time during the worst months of the pandemic.

He stated “we have explained many times that measures such as a general lockdown will not be taken, because there are now vaccinated people, whom we do not have the right to restrict.”

Vaccinated Greeks exempt from restrictions, lockdown

Asked by interviewers if there could be localized shutdowns of entire islands if they experience outbreaks, the Development Minister reiterated that “even in local lockdowns the same principle will be followed: Vaccinated people will not be restricted, as they are not at risk.”

Regarding local lockdowns in Greece, which are still being held over the heads of the public as some refuse to be vaccinated and the Delta variant runs its course, Georgiadis simply restated the new policy that “the unvaccinated cannot go to indoor venues” such as restaurants and clubs.

The new measure will be in force beginning on Friday, July 16, 2021. As of now, no local areas have been targeted for lockdowns since the nationwide restrictions were lifted in May as the tourist season opened in Greece.

There has been pushback from some members of the public regarding the making of the vaccine mandatory, with demonstrations in Athens, Thessaloniki and smaller Greek cities on Thursday as people spoke out against the measures.

Greek citizens take to streets to protest mandatory vaccinations, measures

On Wednesday, thousands of people protested against mandatory vaccinations and other measures imposed by the Greek government to tackle the pandemic in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities around Greece.

Alongside the around 4,000 that turned out in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens, police said several hundred people also took to the streets in the cities of Thessaloniki, Ioannina and Heraklion for the same reason.

The demonstrations followed the Greek government’s announcement recently that only vaccinated people would be allowed to eat inside at restaurants and to enter cultural institutions.

Immune-only venues and spaces in Greece will be only for those who have been fully vaccinated or have immunity through having had the virus in the last six months.

Everyone must also have the corresponding certificate to prove their status to gain access to the venues. The plan also allows for “mixed” venues which also grant access to the unvaccinated — but only if they have a negative a rapid or PCR test for Covid.

The measures can apply to either indoor areas or open spaces that are likely to be crowded.

As of now, coronavirus vaccinations are mandatory for all Greek healthcare workers and nursing home staff, a decision that is in line with French mandates that were handed down this week as well, calling for special Covid-19 passes to enter restaurants and shopping malls and to engage in train and airline travel starting in early August.

French mandate persuades one million people to make vaccine appointments

The French mandate sparked just the immediate response that had been intended, as more than one million of its citizens made vaccine appointments in less than one day, after President Emmanuel Macron appealed to the country to become inoculated. He made his pitch in a bid to save the summer vacation season — and thereby the French economy, which was hit hard by a dearth of visitors last year.

Taking note of the latest virus spikes from South Africa to South Korea, and the vaccine shortages that continue to rankle health authorities in many undeveloped countries, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal appealed to the people on Tuesday to “look at what’s happening in the world.”

Government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni, in another interview on Skai on Wednesday, was blunt in her assessment of the current risks, saying “The choice is clear: Either we get vaccinated or we will fall ill…We have the vaccine that did not exist before and which is free, universal and which everyone has access to.

“It is the only shield to protect ourselves and those around us, together with frequent self-diagnostic tests and observance of the protection measures.”

Defending the Greek government’s decision to make inoculations mandatory for health workers and nursing home staff, Peloni went even further, refusing to rule out an expansion of the measure to members of other professional groups.

“Everything is being reviewed and assessed depending on the evolution of the pandemic and the inoculation program,” she stated.

Lockdown may not be needed as Greece hopes for 70 percent immunity by end of Summer

“We hope to have reached a 70 percent level of immunity by the end of the summer,” she added, noting that the recent spike in Covid-19 infections that is attributable to the Delta variant has thus far not put any added pressure on the Greek healthcare system.

The number of new coronavirus infections jumped all the way up to 3,109 on Tuesday, nearing the highest levels seen at the apex of the pandemic, representing the highest such number since May 11 of this year.

However, the rise in infections is not reflected in a huge increase in those who are severely ill at present, with the number of daily deaths remaining below 10 on average. Additionally, the number of intubated coronavirus patients in ICUs is decreasing steadily, as Greek health authorities have found that the new infections are in young people for the most part.

As of now, the average age of all those in Greece who are currently infected recently dropped to 27.5; however, the number of hospitalizations has begun to inch up as well over the last several days.

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