Students and educators at schools in Athens wore face masks and showed documents stating they had tested negative for COVID-19 as they returned to classes Monday for Greece’s new school year.
Greece on Monday also introduced mandatory weekly testing for all unvaccinated workers as it struggles to boost vaccination rates that are lagging when compared to other European Union countries.
Public and private sector employees will have to pay for weekly tests or carry a vaccination certificate to gain access to their place of work, while unvaccinated children at high schools which reopened Monday are being given test kits distributed at government expense.
Similar restrictions will also apply at sports stadiums, museums, and archaeological sites, as well as indoor leisure areas like cinemas and restaurants.
Some 56% of Greece’s residents have been fully vaccinated, while the average rate in the EU is just over 60%.
Greece has imposed vaccine mandates for health care workers and allows the vaccination of children starting at age 12.
Lockdown measures imposed last year pushed the economy into recession with 2020 output shrinking by 8.2%, and government officials say the country cannot afford to halt economic activity for a second year.
Meanwhile, inspections from early this morning were carried out by the Hellenic Police throughout the country, mainly in areas with potential congestion, such as gyms, health stores, but also entertainment venues, while the inspections by the Inter-Service Unit continue with undiminished intensity.
Already, in the past three days, fines of 3,300 euros were confirmed in stores for non-use of the mask by employees in Attica, Thessaloniki, and Loutraki, as non-use of the mask is the first element examined by the control mechanisms. The inspections continued with greater intensity today, as the new framework for the protection of public health mandates the demonstration of the vaccination or disease certificate, as well as a negative diagnostic test for the free access of the citizens.