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Covid-19: Greece suspends the wearing of masks at the start of the tourist season

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Since Wednesday, the wearing of masks in Greece in enclosed spaces has been suspended for at least the three months of the high summer season. A period that marks the peak of tourist receipts on which the country is very dependent. However, this does not apply to urban transport, retirement homes and hospitals.

The wearing of masks in Greece in enclosed spaces has been suspended since Wednesday and at least for the three months of the high summer season, marking the peak of tourist receipts on which the country is very dependent. Except in urban transport (metro, trolley, tram, bus), retirement homes and hospitals, wearing a mask to protect yourself from Covid-19 is no longer compulsory in shops, banks, public services, airports or intercity buses, according to a directive from the Greek health authorities. At school and university, it remains compulsory for end-of-year exams.

No decision made for boats and taxis

As for boats and taxis, no specific decision has been made but the commission of epidemiologists should address the issue during the day, according to media reports. Health Minister Thanos Plevris, quoted by public television ERT, indicated that in planes and intercity buses where seats are numbered, wearing a mask is no longer compulsory, suggesting that a similar decision could apply to vessels connecting mainland Greece and the islands. However, the authorities recommend wearing a mask in case of crowds.

In mid-May, the minister announced the suspension of health restrictions before the opening of the tourist season, under “epidemiological data and expert recommendations”. The minister had however indicated that the precautions taken to stem the pandemic would be re-examined on September 1, after the summer season. In recent weeks, the number of deaths and cases of infection by variants of Covid-19 has gradually decreased.

Nearly 30,000 Covid deaths in Greece

On Tuesday, the country recorded 5,080 infections for 10.7 million inhabitants while the total number of people infected since the outbreak of the pandemic in February 2020 amounts to 3.45 million. Greece has so far deplored 29,800 deaths. More than a dozen deaths are still recorded daily. Greece’s conservative government has imposed strict anti-Covid measures for two years, ranging from confinement to quasi-compulsory vaccination of the population to avoid the collapse of traditionally weak hospital services.

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Tourism accounts for almost a quarter of the Greek gross domestic product (GDP). As early as February, Athens had begun to lighten the system, in particular by suspending compulsory screening for travelers arriving in Greece and in possession of a European vaccination certificate.

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