No vaccines, no dinner: Greek restaurants accepting only vaccinated customers

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Restrictions allowing only people vaccinated against coronavirus to be served at indoor restaurants, bars and cafes went into effect in Greece on Friday, with diners broadly in favour of the measure as the country grapples with a surge in infections.

Customers at indoor restaurants, bars and cafes have to prove they have been vaccinated. It is the latest in a series of curbs aimed at saving the summer tourist season and includes foreign tourists. It does not apply at outdoor venues.

People who have been vaccinated say the restriction is the price those refusing to get inoculated will have to pay.

“I agree that the vaccinated (people) should have some privileges,” said Yiannis Kamalakis, a customer seated at an indoor cafe in Athens. “Whoever does not want to get vaccinated, it is their choice, but they will have to live with certain restrictions.”

More than 5,000 anti-vaccine protesters, some waving Greek flags and wooden crosses, rallied outside parliament in Athens on Wednesday to oppose the government’s vaccination programme.

So far about 41% of Greeks aged over 15 years are fully vaccinated. Earlier this week the government ordered mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers and nursing home staff.

“I believe the vaccinated should have advantages over the unvaccinated,” said Leonidas Chalaris, a customer at an indoor cafe. “Since I am vaccinated, I would prefer if others (around me) are also vaccinated.”

The government has launched COVID FREE GR, an application that can scan European digital vaccination certificates to help businesses screen customers and comply with the measure.

Authorities are keen to avoid a new lockdown and business owners say they will do all they can to help the measure succeed. Greece’s economy slumped 8.2% last year, hit by lockdowns during waves of the pandemic.

“We are in favour of the government’s measures. Our only concern is that they increase business costs,” said Yiannis Chatzitheodosiou, head of the Athens trade chamber.

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