Greece is set to introduce new measures in its fight to contain the Omicron virus variant, with the Health Minister Thanos Plevris explaining that they come following advice from an expert panel that met on Monday (27/12).
According to the Minister, the use of higher protection masks on transport, in supermarkets, in crowds and by staff at food places are the key parts of the measures coming into effect from January 3 to 16 to restrict the spread of the coronavirus infections following the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Plevris said the measures will help to deal with the super-spreading Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, but clarified that new measures might be introduced if these are not effective. Current restrictions on unvaccinated people's use of indoor spaces remain in effect (museums, indoor cafes and restaurants, theaters, etc.).
The additional measures Plevris announced are as follows:
The government recommends the use of FFP2 or KN95 masks by people working in food places, and by the public using mass transportation, shopping in supermarkets, and wherever there are crowds. Alternatively, they should wear double surgical masks.
- FOOD, ENTERTAINMENT PLACES:
These stores will operate until 12:00 midnight. Music will be allowed for the time being, but if the measure is not observed, music will be banned. All people making use of the venues should be seated; stand-only people are not allowed. Each table must hold a maximum of 6 people, and tables must be at a distance from one another.
- SPORTS ARENAS:
Sports fields and arenas may only operate on 10% of the field's full audience capacity. The maximum occupancy is 1,000 people per venue. If these measures are not observed, future games will be held without live audiences.
- ELDER CARE FACILITIES, HOSPITALS AND CLINICS:
Checks will be stricter for visitors, and allowed only after a PCR test (48 hrs). Medical sales people are banned.
- REMOTE WORK:
Up to 50% of staff at private and public sectors may work from home during that time, Plevris said, and the rotating schedule should be implemented so staff come to work in stages. This will prevent crowding in mass transportation means as well. Each business will decide on the number of staff to work remotely based on their needs.
The Health Minister addressed younger people in particular, appealing to them to be careful particularly if they have attended crowded events. He recommended that they make use of self-tests to ensure they are not exposing to their loved ones to the virus and that they stay away if they find out they are infected.
Plevris also said the National Health System will manage if the rise in infections is not accompanied by a rise in hospitalisations, in which case stricter measures will be considered.