Police in Greece used tear gas and water cannons to disperse an anti-vaccine demonstration in central Athens on Wednesday.
The demonstration, smaller in size than a similar rally on July 16 which was attended by over 5,000 people, took place in front of the Parliament building.
Anti-vaxxers, most of them unmasked, with some carrying Christian icons, unfurled a huge Greek flag in the square.
According to the police, some attempted to break through a police cordon, after which officers responded with tear gas and water cannon. Several thousand also joined a rally in Greece’s seceond-largest city, Thessaloniki.
Anti-vaccine vs Against Mandatory Vaccination in Greece
While many in the crowds are anti-vaxxers, protestors also campaign against compulsory vaccination and what they believe is a terror campaign by the state to use the pandemic to limit their personal liberties.
New measures for unvaccinated health workers
The demonstration of anti-vaxxers took place as Greece unveiled new measures for unvaccinated workers in the health sector on Wednesday.
According to a measures brought forth by the Greek Health Ministry to Parliament, any healthcare workers — including doctors, nurses, paramedics, and administrative support staff in private or public hospitals, clinics, and care facilities — who refuse to be vaccinated, will lose their social security during their unpaid leave.
The suspension without pay will last until the person receives the vaccine or “as long as the pandemic lasts,” according to a statement from the Ministry.
The legislation will take effect as of August 16 for workers in nursing homes and beginning on September 1 for healthcare staff.
In order to cover any loss of staff, the Greek Health Ministry has proposed hiring healthcare workers on three-month contracts.
Less than 10% of doctors in Greece unvaccinated against Covid-19
In total, 90% of Greek doctors and 73% of nurses in the country have now been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Approximately 52 percent of the Greek population is now vaccinated with at least one dose, and 44 percent have had both their doses or were vaccinated with a a single dose vaccine.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the vaccine would be mandatory for healthcare workers, along with those who work in care facilities for the elderly and those with special needs, in mid-July.
The measure has been met with considerable controversy, as some say that it is for the greater good, and others argue it limits their freedom.