Greece introduced mandatory weekly testing for all unvaccinated workers on Monday as it struggles to increase vaccination rates which are lagging behind the European Union average.
Employees in the public and private sectors will have to pay for weekly tests or be provided with a vaccination certificate to access their workplace, while unvaccinated children in high schools that reopened on Monday receive test kits distributed at the expense of the government.
Similar restrictions will also apply to sports stadiums, museums and archaeological sites, as well as indoor recreational spaces such as cinemas and restaurants.
Some 56% of Greek residents have been fully vaccinated, while the average rate in the EU is just over 60%.
Greece has imposed vaccination mandates on healthcare workers and allows vaccination of children from the age of 12.
Last year’s lockdowns plunged the economy into recession, with 2020 output falling 8.2%. Government officials say the country cannot afford to shut down economic activity for a second year.
“At the moment the pandemic (in Greece) is showing signs of de-escalation, so the measures seem to be working,” Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis told private television Skai.
“Unfortunately, this de-escalation is accompanied by the death of our unvaccinated fellow citizens. It pains me to know that these people could have lived, but they fell victim to conspiracy theories. “