Statement by the Minister of Health Mr. Konstantinos Ioannou on the decisions for the restart of the Economy and Social Activities

The Minister of Health made  a clarification statement on the measures this afternoon here in Greek, on measures announced yesterday night:

What follows is an unofficial translation of the statement:

“After evaluating the epidemiological picture and having taken into account that the epidemiological indicators have been stabilizing in the last few days, while the admission to the hospitals has gradually started to decrease, the Council of Ministers decided on a series of measures for a gradual restart of the economy and society.

As you were informed yesterday, the de-escalation of the measures will be gradual and depending on the epidemiological picture as it develops. The lifting of the various restrictions is aimed at the psychological upliftment of the citizens after many months of sacrifice. But the return to more normal conditions must be done safely and carefully. For this reason, not all restrictions can be completely removed at this stage. However, they are adapted to the data of the period we are going through now.

Therefore, the Council of Ministers, as was the commitment 2 weeks ago, decided to proceed with the gradual unlocking of the economy and social activities. With a time horizon of 1 June, it was decided that the de-escalation should be done gradually in three phases, in order to give more time for the epidemiological indicators to stabilize, while accelerating the vaccinations, in order to achieve the goal of giving at least the 1st vaccine dose to more than 60 % of the population by the end of June.

In the 1st phase and until the 16th of May, the measures that were valid until the 25th of April are restored with the same restrictions and sanitary protocols. The goal is the smooth transition to the next phase from May 17, when more businesses will reopen and more relaxation in social activities will be allowed. Indicatively, from May 17, the allowed number in places of culture and places of religious worship increases, the organization of social events, such as weddings and baptisms, is allowed, and businesses that remained closed for months are reopened, such as playgrounds, amusement parks, casinos , zoos, picnic areas.

Then, given that the epidemiological picture will be improved with the contribution of vaccinations, from June 1 we will proceed to further relaxations that will be closer to the conditions we knew before the pandemic.

In addition, in order to achieve the best possible harmonization, it was decided to repeal the measure of sending a text message for travel purposes. From now on, in order to be more secure during our presence in specific areas where there is a synchronicity and increased presence of people, along with the use of a mask and the observance of other personal protection measures, it was decided that in synchronization areas (eg shopping malls, restaurants, churches, etc.), one of the following conditions must apply:

  1. Have been vaccinated with at least one dose over a period of 3 weeks, or
  2. Have been ill with COVID-19 within the last 6 months, or
  3. If one of the above does not apply, and as a temporary solution until the vaccination coverage goes further, citizens aged 12 and over are given the option to submit a certificate of negative test, PCR or rapid test, valid for 72 hours. For example, if the test took place on Sunday at 10 am it would be valid until Tuesday at midnight.

This measure is temporary and will be applied for a transitional period in order to ensure that our travels and social contacts are made as safe as possible for our personal and Public Health. The goal, at the same time, is to achieve the desired immunity through vaccinations.

More specific information will be provided later in the day.

It is also clarified that the responsibility for the control of possession of evidence is not the responsibility of the companies, but the control will be done by the competent Officers of the Police or of the Ministries and Departments depending on the companies in their areas of responsibility.

The period we are going through is crucial and will determine our further steps. The goal at the moment is to accelerate the vaccination coverage of the population. The results from the vaccinations have started to show a positive change in the epidemiological data in our country as well. Having exceeded 33% of people vaccinated with the first dose of licensed vaccines, we are already seeing the benefits as the incidence of serious illness and hospitalizations, especially the elderly, have been greatly reduced due to the very high vaccination coverage at older age groups. The Ministry of Health continues with the commitment for the implementation of the Vaccination Plan, having increased the possibility for more vaccinations per day. The response from citizens to vaccination is very encouraging and this gives us optimism that we will soon be able to proceed with even more relaxations. We see younger ages showing increased interest in vaccination and that is encouraging. Only with collective effort will we achieve immunity and take our lives back into our own hands.

The goal we have set for the vaccination with at least the first dose of more than 60% by the end of June is achievable and achievable. At the same time, however, there is a need for constant vigilance and proper observance of personal protection measures. Personal precautionary measures are simple and do not affect our daily lives. The combination of the application of protection measures and vaccination is our vehicle for overcoming the difficult conditions of the pandemic. The June timeline and the end of unprecedented conditions are near. We can and will quickly get our lives back.”