Greece Country’s Prime Minister Pressures Vaccine Skeptics As Infections Surge

ATHENS, Greece — If healthcare professionals in Greece refuse to be vaccinated, they will be fired, according to a new obligatory policy announced by the country’s prime minister on Monday.

Staff at nursing homes will be suspended starting Aug. 16 if they do not schedule a vaccination appointment, with a similar regulation for state-run and private hospitals to follow in September.

All indoor business areas, including pubs, cinemas, and theatres, will be open exclusively to the vaccinated beginning Friday and lasting until the end of August.

“No one can claim ignorance of the coronavirus after a year and a half,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address. “Due to the mentality of some people, the country will shut down once more… The problem is not Greece, but unvaccinated Greeks.”

The new limitations will be in effect throughout the country, including on the Greek islands and other popular tourist sites.

Since late June, COVID-19 cases have been reported in Greece, with officials blaming negligence in pubs and restaurants as well as the development of the extremely contagious delta strain. Over the course of seven days, the number of daily infections per 100,000 people increased from 3.5 on June 24 to over 17 currently.

Just over 40% of people have been completely vaccinated, but vaccine appointments have been declining in recent weeks, forcing the government to put further pressure on vaccine doubters.

On Thursday, authorities will begin taking vaccine requests from minors over the age of 14 who have parental permission.

Long lockdowns and a sharp decline in tourism in 2020 stopped Greece’s financial improvement and sent the country into recession, with the GDP falling 8.2% last year. According to the European Commission, production will increase by 4.3 percent this year and 6.0 percent in 2022 if tourism recovers and further lockdowns are averted.

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