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PM Mitsotakis announces obligatory vaccination of staff in public and private health care

The obligatory vaccination of staff in public and private hospitals, and an entry ban for unvaccinated people in indoor spaces were two key measures announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at an exraordinary live briefing on Monday evening.

In a pitch to those aged over 60 and to young people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus pandemic, Mitsotakis said the measures aimed at preventing any further lockdowns in Greece, especially with the rise of the Delta variant.

The four measures he announced are as follows:

– All staff at care facilities for the elderly are obliged to be fully vaccinated. Anyone who does not comply will be placed on work suspension as of August 16.

– All medical and other staff in the public and private health sector are obliged to be vaccinated as of September 1. “I am sure a majority of society agrees with this, and I call on all parties to support this fully and without hesitation,” Mitsotakis said.

– All Armed Forces personnel, whether permanent or those fulfilling their military duty, will be vaccinated on the premises where they serve. The PM added that there willl also be incentives to getting vaccinated, “as crowding is unavoidable” in the military.

– Indoor venues including entertainment venues, theaters, cinemas, and bars, will only allow entry to vaccinated people. The measure goes into effect on Friday through the end of August. A digital application that will be set up will provide immediate confirmation of their vaccination, Mitsotakis said, adding that this is a practice implemented by Austria, Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg.

In addition, during the summer, he said, entertainment venues will not be able to accomodate any standing people, and will be strictly checked for this measure. Cafes and restaurants (which are currently only allowed outdoor seating) will be able to add more tables outdoors, he said.

Vaccination campaign
The government’s goal is to vaccinate at least 70% of the adult population of Greece, Mitsotakis said, but referred to two obstacles to this: the aggressive Delta variant, and the percentage of the population that hesitates to become vaccinated. “It’s a double threat that all countries have to deal with, while some of them are actually forced to return to tough restrictions,” he said, asserting however that “Greece will not shut down because of some people’s attitude.”

Nearly all (99%) people admitted to ICUs were not vaccinated, he said, adding the encouraging signs that 3 in 4 Greeks over 60, 2 in 3 of those over 45, and 1 in 2 of those over 30 years of age have been vaccinated, and the rate is accelerating.

He also spoke of the foreseen high growth of Greece in the next two years and the hopeful return of tourism, a key driver of the economy, while “arrivals at the Athens International Airport during the last few days have exceeded 50% of all arrivals in 2019,” a goal the government has repeatedly aimed for.

People have the right not to be vaccinated, he added but “will not lead the country to new widespread restrictions.” These people should listen to the young, to the Greek Orthodox Church and to the professionals who want jobs to return to normalcy.

The premier called on the public to “rally around a common reality” and to listen to the advice of getting vaccinated, “especially now the economy’s engines are restarting.”