Greece Expands Restrictions To Stem Covid-19 Omicron Variant Spread

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The Greek government announced further restrictions effective from January 3-16 to counter an increasing number of Covid-19 infections, including variants like Omicron, targeted mostly at nighttime entertainment venues.

On Monday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases rose to a record 9,284 with 66 deaths, the health minister announced that high-protection masks will be required in supermarkets, public transportation, and eating establishments.

Bars and restaurants will have to shut at midnight, and no standing customers will be permitted in entertainment venues. In addition, there will be a maximum of six individuals per table.

“If we find that these measures are not complied with we will ban music (at entertainment venues),” Health Minister Thanos Plevris told a news conference.

As part of the government’s move, it’s recommended that attendance at sporting events be restricted to 10% of the capacity or no more than 1,000 people.

Visitors will be permitted to visit care facilities for the elderly if they are able to provide a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before the visit.

It was already announced last week that the authorities would tighten regulations this week, mandating masks in public places and banning celebrations surrounding Christmas and the new year.

“We are entering the (period of) prevalence of the Omicron variant in Greece,” Plevris said.

According to the government, in the Athens metro area, private hospitals may be asked to assist the public health system to handle hospitalizations.

In a statement, Plevris urged those who will celebrate New Year’s Eve to “protect their loved ones” and not expose themselves to public gatherings.

Unvaccinated people were already restricted from using outdoor or indoor venues in Greece. Last week, the country issued double masks or masks offering high protection for people using public transportation or going to the supermarket.

Omicron and earlier strains of the Coronavirus are more contagious than earlier strains, but two studies published this week suggest those affected are less likely to be hospitalized.

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