Public Christmas celebrations banned in Greece to stall omicron

Acropolis of Athens in Greece featured photo 1140x760 1

On Thursday, Greece's Health Minister Thanos Plevris announced that public Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations would be banned, and masks would be required in public spaces to address the omicron variant of the coronavirus. 

Starting on Friday, citizens will also be required to wear two masks or masks that offer higher protection on public transit and grocery stores. International visitors will also be "strongly encouraged" to take two PCR tests within a few days after their arrival.

Plevris added that more measures could be expected in the new year regarding sports and other entertainment events to prevent Greece from having another lockdown.

Thus far, Greece has only had a few dozen omicron cases, though infections have recently stressed the country's hospitals.

New coronavirus cases shot up again on Thursday to 6,667 from 5,461 a day earlier, while fatalities also rose in the 24-period to 71 from 69, taking Greece's death toll since the pandemic's start 20,198.

In its daily bulletin, the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) said 655 Covid-19 patients were on ventilators on Thursday, of which 548 (or 83.7%) are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.

The bulk of Thursday's new cases were in Attica, which accounted for 2,625 of the 6,667, with Thessaloniki reporting 903 new cases.