Minister of Health Announcement on the relaxation of measures to combat COVID-19, 27/01/2021

Just now the Minister of Health has announced the measures to be followed in the next few weeks as the country reopens. As detailed by the Minister of Health Mr. Constantinos Ioannou:

“The de-escalation steps will be very slow, coordinated and controlled, so that the epidemiological situation can be monitored and the possibility of epidemiological deterioration reduced. Decisions are not only made with a view to reducing the number of cases, but also take into account other epidemiological indicators such as the situation in hospitals, which remains quite difficult. Our goal is to continue to see in relation to the reduction of cases, and a reduction in the number of patients, while our attention is focused on people who are hospitalized in a serious condition in Intensive Care Units and Intensive Care Units.

 Aside from the epidemiological picture, the action plan for the phasing out of restrictive measures has been drawn up, taking into account the threefold “test-vaccination-strict monitoring of measures“, without ignoring the recommendations at a European level to remain vigilant about aggressive spread and transmissibility of the new strain of the virus, but also developments regarding vaccination issues.

Based on the above parameters, we want to avoid hasty high-risk moves that will undermine the effort for an as-quick-as possible resumption of social and economic activity, with the aim of reverting quickly but safely to more normal conditions.

After analyzing the epidemiological data and evaluating the factors mentioned above, the Council of Ministers, after hearing the recommendations of the Advisory Scientific Committee and the proposals of the technical committee from the relevant Ministries, decided to lift the measures for the period 1-15 February, as follows:

As of February 1st, the following measures are implemented:

·       Reopening of barbershops, hairdressers, beauty salons.

·       Increase from 25% to 50% of the percentage of staff that can have a physical presence in private service companies, without a minimum and maximum number of people.

·       Prohibition of gatherings in homes, with the exception of the visit of up to two (2) people, meaning they are relatives of 1st and 2nd degree.

As of Monday, February 8, 2021, the following apply in addition:

·       Reopening of public and private primary schools.

·       Reopening of retail businesses, including department Stores and Malls.

·       Reopening of betting agencies, only for the purposes of completing the ticket, without the use of table seats.

·       Reopening of museums and other archeological sites.

·       Religious Ceremonies in the places of religious worship are performed in the presence of believers with a maximum number of persons up to 50 people, observing the health protocols.

·       Increase in the number of people for home visits, to four (4) people.

In Addition the Minister of Health outlined the following as regards Antigen Testing at the Workplace.

“As you know, in recent months an important weapon in our strategy to deal with the pandemic is the large number of rapid antigen tests performed in the community that allow us to have fast and reliable real-time epidemiological surveillance.

Consequentially, utilizing the tool of rapid tests, and to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the workplace and in the general population, the Ministry of Health has developed a targeted control plan with rapid test in the workplace for all groups of workers who will be reactivated. Specifically, the employees who will return to their workplace, based on the strategy, will be subjected to a test with rapid test which will be provided free of charge by the Ministry of Health through the sampling stations.

Therefore, and based on the above announcements, from tomorrow until Sunday, an examination program will be implemented for all employees working in hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, who will be reactivated from Monday, February 1st. At the same time, from February 1, the mandatory weekly inspection with rapid test of 20% of the staff working in operating companies is implemented. Specifically, companies should have 20% of their employees carrying out rapid tests at any given time on a weekly basis. To achieve this goal, employees will be able to go to the sampling points of the Ministry of Health from tomorrow.

The gradual re-opening of the economy safely, presupposes the faithful observance of the health protocols. It is a warm request to all employees and employers, to trade unions, trade unions and other organizations, to companies, to ensure the diligent implementation of the updated directives. At the same time, all the Ministries involved that are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the measures are coordinated for more effective surveillance.”

The Minister has further stressed the importance of vaccine coverage of the general population. The stated target is the vaccination of persons over 80 years of age and Health Professional in the first line, and by the end of March the vaccination of a total of 100,000 people.

The speech of the Minister in Greek can be accessed here in Greek.