ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece on Tuesday announced tougher restrictions on most activities for unvaccinated people, as the country registered a record high in new infections for the second day in a row.
Health Minister Thanos Pevris said the measures would take effect Saturday. Greece on Tuesday recorded 6,700 new COVID-19 infections — up from 5,449 Monday — and 59 deaths.
Some 61% of Greece’s population has been fully inoculated. Health authorities are striving to boost vaccine uptake — as well as to encourage adult Greeks to register for booster shots.
Infections are currently particularly high in northern Greece, where public hospitals are running out of intensive care unit beds and are sending patients to be treated in private facilities.
“The measures will affect people who choose not to be vaccinated,” Plevris said, adding that the center-right government has ruled out a return to a general lockdown.
Plevris said as of Saturday all unvaccinated people will be obliged to display a recent negative test to enter all indoor public areas, including banks, most shops, government buildings and hair salons. The same will apply to outdoor restaurant areas and cafes. Exceptions will be made for supermarkets, shops selling food, pharmacies and places of worship.
All public and private sector employees will also have to display negative tests twice a week to enter their workplaces, instead of once as is now the case.
Plevris said police inspections for breaches of the new restrictions would be stepped up, with business owners facing higher fines, starting from 5,000 euros ($5,800). The government will also launch a new public awareness campaign on vaccinations, sending text messages to people who haven’t been inoculated.
As of Friday, all inoculated adults will be able to register for booster shots if six months have elapsed.
Overall, the European Union nation of 11 million has registered 750,000 COVID-19 infections and 16,000 deaths.