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New COVID Restrictions in Greece May Come in Fall: Health Minister

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COVID-19 restrictions may be reimposed in the fall, the country’s health minister said Monday. Credit: Greek Reporter

COVID-19 restrictions may be reimposed throughout Greece in the fall, the country’s health minister predicted on Monday. The news comes amid the latest surge of cases after the country eased safety measures and as it now welcomes a flood of tourists.

Health Minister Thanos Plevris warned of the possible return to some restrictions after the National Public Health Organization reported the latest cases: 9,064 COVID infections and twelve deaths in Greece. Of those cases, 7,682 were new and 1,382 were repeat infections, according to the report.

Cases are expected to peak nationwide at 25,000 by mid-July, according to Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, a professor of Environmental Engineering at Aristotle University.

The tourist season is in full swing, and the country’s archaeological sites, along with its beaches and islands are busy, but Plevris said authorities may decide to impose “mild” targeted COVID-19 measures in the fall.

This month, Greece surpassed 30,000 coronavirus deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, but cases dropped enough in recent months that nearly all restrictions were removed.

On Friday, Greek authorities’ decision to recommend a second COVID-19 booster shot for individuals over thirty was criticized by a leading health specialist. The current recommendation for a second booster shot for people aged 30 to 59 who do not belong to the vulnerable groups “is not accompanied by the necessary documentation,” said Elias Mossialos, Professor of Health Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

COVID-19 Wave ‘Not’ Pressuring System

Plevris still advises the fourth shot, though it is voluntary. Masks are no longer required except in certain places, but he said people should continue to wear a face covering in crowded places and indoors.

The country’s National Vaccination Committee reiterated a “strong recommendation” that those aged sixty and over get a second booster shot.

Plevris added that the sixth wave of the virus in Greece was not putting pressure on the country’s healthcare system.

“We’ve entered another phase of coexistence with the pandemic, not in terms of choice, but this is how it happens when variants have become very contagious,” he said, according to a report in Greek Travel Pages.

Greece is enjoying a robust return to the tourist season. From June 16th to June 22nd, Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport saw an average of 2,061 flights, 6 percent more than the week before. That made it Europe’s seventh busiest airport for the week. Passenger traffic was about 94 percent of its standout year in 2019, when it broke the record for most passengers. It is on pace this year to shatter that record, officials said.

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