The government has an obligation to ensure as smooth and safe a transition to normality as possible after the COVID-19 pandemic, in light of the fact that the option of the vaccine now exists, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced on Tuesday.
“Unlike in autumn last year, when humanity was confronted with COVID-19 without other defences apart from the known protection measures, this autumn each of us can protect themselves and protect others,” he said.
“For eight months we have had vaccines available and we have a choice that we did not have before…the hospital data for the past two months shows that we are talking about an epidemic for the unvaccinated as far as illness and intubation are concerned,” Kikilias continued, noting that over 90% of patients in ICUs for COVID-19 were unvaccinated.
Kikilias said that hospitals will no longer hold spaces for treating COVID-19 as a priority but serve patients with every kind of ailment.
As he underlined, vaccinations must continue in order to reach the 80% vaccination rate, which meant that another one million citizens needed to be vaccinated.
The minister said the measure for the suspension of unvaccinated healthcare workers will go ahead in September as planned and that mandatory vaccination concerns both the private and public healthcare sector, including private doctors and pharmacists.
Kikilias then announced new rules for areas of work, entertainment, culture, travel and sport that will be different for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, with the latter having to provide certificates of a negative PCR or rapid test or a certificate of previous illness with COVID-19, which they will have to pay for themselves.
He said the costs of the tests will be 10 euros, except for school pupils who will have to do two self tests each week.
Kikilias also announced that public health facilities will no longer perform free COVID-19 tests for the unvaccinated, who will have to go to private diagnostic centres.
The sanctions for failing to comply with the requirement to submit tests will be suspension from work for employees, forbidding school children to attend school and not allowing individuals access to means of travel.