Greece announced new measures to stem the spread of Omicron and Delta variants of Covid on Thursday that include the mandatory use of face masks and the cancellation of Christmas and New Year festivities in open spaces.
Health officials fear that the strain could spread rapidly and may even become the dominant strain of the virus in Greece.
The new restrictive measures were announced by Minister of Health Thanos Plevris and the government’s representative, Giannis Oikonomou.
Face masks and other measures to stem Covid spread in detail
The measures are based on the recommendations of the advisory committee on the coronavirus, Plevris said, adding that they will be implemented in two stages: The first stage will be December 24 until January 2, and the second from January 3 onward.
Beginning at 6 a.m. on Friday, Christmas Eve, the new measures include:
- Wearing a face mask will become mandatory in all indoor and outdoor areas. The measure also applies to indoor areas such as gyms and restaurants (at the entrance).
- In public transport and supermarkets, the use of a double mask or the high-protection mask (KN-95) becomes mandatory.
- All public recreational Christmas and New Year festivities planned by the Municipalities are canceled.
- Visitors entering Greece in addition to the already existing forecasts (PCR 72 or Rapid 24 hours) will be required with a strong recommendation to repeat the test on the 2nd and 4th day after entering the country.
- A self-test is strongly recommended before attending any social event.
From January 3 onward, Plevris said that additional measures will concern entertainment venues, working hours, sports events and teleworking.
New lockdown in Greece “unavoidable”
Greece cannot prevent a new Covid lockdown — which should come sooner rather than later — a Greek expert at the University of Thessaloniki warned on Wednesday.
Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, a professor of Environmental Engineering at Aristotle University said that based on data from Greece and abroad, the country cannot avoid a universal lockdown mainly because of the spread of the Omicron strain.
Speaking to Greece’s ERT3 radio station, he said that all evidence suggests that the problem created by Omicron will “come very quickly and will be very big.
“If there is a universal lockdown from January 3, it will last a month,” Sarigiannis estimated. He stressed that if authorities wait until January 16 to impose a lockdown, then Greece will have to shut down till March.
Sarigiannis estimates that by January 1, “the Omicron mutation will represent more than 50 percent of the cases in our country.”