Greece to require proof of COVID vaccination at indoor restaurants

People sit in a cafe in central Athens
People sit in a cafe in central Athens, Greece, September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS, July 13 (Reuters) - Greece will require customers at indoor restaurants, bars and cafes to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the government said on Tuesday, to combat a surge in infections.

The latest in a series of restrictions aimed at saving the summer tourist season, the move will also oblige customers at nightclubs, cinemas and theatres to be vaccinated and seated. Dining outdoors will not require proof of vaccination or a test.

"It is crucial not to give the impression that we are losing control of the pandemic so that our tourism industry can go on and operate normally," Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis told a news conference.

"The course of Greece's economy will hinge on how well we comply with the measures and control the pandemic."

Greece reported 3,109 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a level last seen in early April, bringing the total number of infections since the first case was detected in February last year to 444,783. COVID-19 related deaths have reached 12,806.

The government is betting on at least a partial revival of its tourism sector this summer, but is worried about the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. About 41% of Greeks are fully vaccinated so far. Tourists need to show they have been vaccinated or present a negative PCR test to enter the country.

A government-launched application, COVID FREE GR, which can scan European digital vaccination certificates and test results, will be available to businesses.

This week Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said health care and nursing home workers would have to be vaccinated. Public and private sector employers will also have the right to ask employees whether they have been inoculated. read more

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said nursing home staff would have until Aug. 16 to obtain at least a first shot. Medical and nursing staff at all hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres have until Sept 1.

Those who refuse to comply will not be able to work and will not be paid. Clinics found violating the measure will face a 50,000-euro fine.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Additional reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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