Christmas concerts and other events have been cancelled in Greece under new restrictions announced on Thursday.
Masks will also be obligatory in both indoor and outdoor areas – including churches – while a double mask or a KN95 will be required to travel in public transport or visit a supermarket.
Incoming travellers will be required to have follow-up tests for COVID-19 on the second and fourth days after their arrival.
The restrictions will take effect on Friday as the country braces for the expected impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, with the public health service already under pressure and intensive care space at more than 90% capacity.
“Omicron is in our country,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris said during a special briefing on Thursday.
Minister Plevris said these new measures will continue until January 3 and “are enough to celebrate Christmas and New Years safely.”
After January 3, the government will introduce more restrictive measures that will affect entertainment, sports events and non-essential activities, Minister Plevris said, but clarified that these do not include local or general lockdowns or a return of the SMS system for leaving the house.
Greece suffered a spike in pandemic-related deaths in November and December with the infection level easing in recent days. But the emergence of the omicron variant has renewed concern in the country where about a quarter of the adult population remains unvaccinated.
Greece recorded 6,667 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, 33 of which were the omicron variant. There were 71 deaths.
Source: AP News.