Unvaccinated Elderly to Face Monthly €100 Fine in Greece

The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced that vaccines will be mandatory for those aged 60 years-old and over, with the unjabbed facing fines of up to €100 per month. Mitosotakis commented that this was the “price to pay for health” and labelled the new law, which will come into force early next year, as “protection, not punishment”. RT has more.

Covid vaccines will be mandatory for individuals aged 60 years-old and over, as Greece seeks to protect its health service from a potential resurgence of the virus throughout the coming winter months.

The Prime Minister’s announcement marks the first measure in the E.U. to target a specific age group with mandatory vaccination, as officials seek to protect at-risk individuals and emergency workers from Covid. 

Defending the decision, Mitsotakis stated that it was “the price to pay for health” and that it was important to make the Covid jab mandatory to protect elderly Greeks who have not yet been vaccinated.

“We are focusing our efforts on protection of our fellow citizens and for this reason their vaccination will be mandatory from now on,” Mitsotakis stated. 

Over 60s who have failed to book their appointment for a first Covid vaccine dose by January 16 will face a monthly recurring fine of €100. Mitsotakis called the penalty a matter of “protection, not punishment“.

By imposing a Covid vaccine mandate, Greece is hoping that it will be able to avoid a lockdown, instead relying on jabs, tests, and social distancing to protect citizens from the virus, which has resulted in around 18,000 fatalities in the country.

Criticizing the Government’s actions, Syriza, the country’s main opposition party, condemned Mitsotakis for taking a step that “hasn’t happened anywhere” in Europe. While it’s not clear how the fine will be enforced, critics highlighted that €100 is a significant proportion of the country’s monthly €730 pension.

Although Greece’s measure is being touted as the first inoculation mandate imposed on a specific age group, it follows the French Government urging all adults to get their booster shots. While France has not made the jabs mandatory, individuals who fail to get their booster will be unable to use their health pass, thereby denying them access to indoor venues such as restaurants and bars.

Worth reading in full.

Greece to Impose Restrictions on the Unvaccinated

The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced that, from Monday, the unvaccinated (even if they have recently tested negative for Covid) will be prohibited from entering indoor spaces such as restaurants, cinemas, and gyms. In addition, Mitsotakis declared that the country is suffering from “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”, with the elderly encouraged to receive booster jabs as their vaccination certificates are set to expire after seven months. Aljazerra has the story.

Greece has become the latest country in the European Union to impose more restrictions on those unvaccinated against Covid following a surge in infections in recent weeks.

In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that, from Monday, unvaccinated people will be largely barred from indoor spaces, including restaurants, cinemas, museums and gyms, even if they test negative for Covid.

Greece has so far fully vaccinated about 62% of its population of some 11 million people. Authorities had hoped for a rate of about 70% before the European winter sets in at the end of the year.

“This is indeed a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Mitsotakis said. “Greece is mourning unnecessary losses because it simply does not have the vaccination rates of other European countries.”

Under the new rules in Greece, vaccination certificates of those over 60 years-old will be valid for seven months after being issued, in an effort to encourage them to get a third, “booster” shot.

Worshippers attending church will be allowed to enter with a negative test, Mitsotakis said.

In a subsequent statement, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the main opposition Syriza party, accused Mitsotakis of “being responsible” for the “unprecedented tragedy” that has seen Greece’s Covid-related death toll surpass 17,000.

The country reported 7,317 new infections and 63 deaths on Thursday. This brought total infections since the start of the pandemic to 861,117 and the total number of fatalities to 17,075.

Earlier in November, the Government had imposed some restrictions on unvaccinated citizens but had allowed them access to most services, provided they tested negative.

Austria, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic all limited public life for the unvaccinated this week as infections rise across Europe.

The Greek prime minister said he would propose making this an E.U.-wide standard to the European Commission.

Worth reading in full.

Holidays Ruined for Millions of Brits if Spain and Greece are Forced on to “Amber Plus” List

Reports suggest that the Government is considering demoting both Spain and Greece to the “Amber Plus” List alongside France due to fears over Covid variants, a decision that could ruin the holiday plans of millions of Brits – and not for the first time. MailOnline has the story.

The list effectively strips back ‘Freedom Day’ rules, which allow [fully vaccinated] holidaymakers to return from “Amber List” countries without having to face a mandatory period of self-isolation.

But, just days before the new rules were to be announced, the Government threw tens of thousands of holidays into doubt by revealing that double-jabbed Britons returning from France would still have to quarantine.

Now Greece and Spain, both of which are currently on the Amber List, could follow France onto the so-called Amber Plus List.

But, according to figures released by Labour, that could leave an estimated 5,857,558 people facing the prospect of last-minute quarantine requirements – plunging the holidays into “chaos once more”. 

The Government introduced an exemption for the requirement to isolate at home for 10 days for fully-vaccinated holidaymakers returning from countries on the amber list.

But ministers removed the exemption for France amid concerns over the Beta variant, creating what critics call an Amber Plus designation on the traffic light system for foreign travel.

There has been speculation that Greece and Spain could face the same measures as France, though the Government has not confirmed this. …

The opposition estimated the number of people to have booked holidays to those three nations by looking at official data for past travel and adjusting for lower willingness to travel during the pandemic by comparing with surveys.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The travel list allocations have not changed for Spain or Greece.

“We are closely monitoring the data and will take swift action on travel list allocations and international travel requirements should the data show that countries’ risk to England has changed.”

It comes as holidaymakers faced up to three-hour queues through passport control at Heathrow Airport yesterday after e-gates broke down and the ‘pingdemic’ left just one official at the desks, according to frustrated passengers.

Worth reading in full.

Night Curfew May Have Increased the Spread of COVID-19 in Greece

During the pandemic, many countries have imposed night curfews in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. How successful have these measures been? According to a recent study, they may have actually increased transmission. 

Sotiris Georganas and colleagues took advantage of a natural experiment in Greece whereby the timing of night curfew shifted in one region but not in another. While a 9pm curfew had been in place throughout the country since November of 2020, a 6pm weekend curfew was introduced on 6th February in the Attica region (which includes Athens).

The authors used Google mobility data to examine how time spent at home, and time spent at groceries/pharmacies, changed in the Attica region and the Epirus and Western Macedonia region (where the timing of night curfew did not shift). Specifically, they examined mobility data in each region in the five weekends before the shift, as well as the four weekends after.

What did the authors find? Compared to the Epirus & Western Macedonia region, the Attica region saw a small and statistically significant increase in time spent at home, as well as a small and non-significant decrease in time spent at groceries/pharmacies. In other words, the shift in the timing of night curfew had – at best – a marginal impact on mobility.

Given that the shift reduced the time available for shopping by three full hours (a change of almost 20%), the overall effect will have been to increase crowding – by concentrating roughly the same amount of shopping into a shorter time period. As a consequence, it may well have led to a rise in transmission. 

In the authors’ words, “As more people were present simultaneously in high-risk places such as supermarkets, the early curfew backfired.” This finding suggests that governments should focus on protecting care homes and hospitals, rather than trying to control the epidemic by tweaking people’s shopping habits.