Greece joined several other European countries on Thursday in imposing more restrictions on those unvaccinated against COVID-19 following a surge in infections in recent weeks.
From next Monday, unvaccinated people will be barred from indoor spaces including restaurants, cinemas, museums and gyms, even if they test negative for COVID-19, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
In a televised address to the nation, Mitsotakis urged Greeks to “get vaccinated, get vaccinated, get vaccinated”.
Greece has so far fully vaccinated about 62% of its population of around 11 million. Authorities had hoped for a rate of about 70% by autumn.
“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.”
Austria, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic all limited public life for the unvaccinated this week as infections rise across Europe.
Under the new rules in Greece, vaccination certificates of those over 60 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.
The number of new daily infections hit record highs in Greece this month, putting pressure on an already struggling health care system and forcing the government to order private sector doctors in five regions in northern Greece to assist public hospitals.
The requisition order, published in the official government gazette on Thursday, is effective for a month.
Greece reported 7,317 new infections and 63 deaths on Thursday. This brings total infections since the start of the pandemic to 861,117 and the total death toll to 17,075.
Roughly 66% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. Its infections are among the highest on the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 971.5 per 100,000 people.
Daily infections on Thursday reached a new record of 15,145. The biggest wave before this peaked at 9,586 a year ago, when Austria went into full lockdown.
New daily infections in Germany have risen 14-fold in the past month in Saxony, a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which harbours many vaccine sceptics and anti-lockdown protesters.
The Czech Republic, a country of 10.7 million, reported a record 22,511 cases for one day on Tuesday and hospitals have been filling up although the number of patients – at about 4,500 – is about half the peak seen in March.
With 58% of the population inoculated, the Czech vaccination rate is below the European Union average. Slovakia has the EU’s third-lowest rate, with 45% of the population inoculated, and many Slovak hospitals have filled up, especially in the east.
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