Greece toughens up rules as country seeks to boost vaccinations
Evangelo Sipsas in Athens
In most of Europe COVID-19 has never been this bad, and governments have reacted by bringing in a fresh wave of restrictions to try to curb the spread of infection.
In Greece authorities have been ensuring only vaccinated people, those with a negative test result and people recovered from COVID-19 have used public spaces.
But tougher measures have now been brought into effect for two weeks, mainly targeting unvaccinated people.
The latest measures allow only fully vaccinated people or those recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months into public indoor venues such as cinemas, theaters, museums and gyms after presenting proof and logging on to a government website.
"It is an immediate act of protection and, of course, an indirect entreaty to be vaccinated," said Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
For those who refuse to get the jab, their options are limited. They are still allowed entry to retail stores, banks, hair salons, and outdoor cafes/restaurants, but only if they present a negative COVID-19 test.
Entry to supermarkets, pharmacies, and food shops, such as butcher shops, bakeries and liquor stores continues without any restrictions.
But some argue that the latest measures are divisive and unfair.
"I really don't feel like showing my ID to anyone, especially when that has to do with my information, that's private. It's ridiculous, just ridiculous. And the government is trying to convince me by going on every single news channel of the country. And the media keeps on asking whether we will be able to enjoy our Christmas holidays or not. Really? Is that the point that we have reached? To beg the government to allow us to enjoy Christmas?" said Athens resident Giorgos.
The country has had close to 17,000 deaths and 900,000 confirmed cases. Double what it had just a few months ago.
In addition to the new rules on who can enter where, there are also now staggered working hours for those in both the private and public sectors to avoid overcrowding, especially at rush hour times and on public transport.
With authorities increasing patrols and checks, business owners are joining public health experts in urging people to get vaccinated as Greece's vaccination rate of 61 percent of the population lags behind other European countries.