Greece Bans Unvaccinated Individuals From Bars, Theaters at Least Through August

Starting Friday, Greece will ban unvaccinated people from all indoor commercial areas, including bars, theaters and cinemas, until the end of August.

These restrictions are part of a new mandatory policy announced Monday in order to prevent another lockdown in the Greek islands.

Health care workers in nursing homes and both private and state-run hospitals will also be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or else they will face suspension.

"After a year and a half, no one can claim ignorance about the coronavirus anymore," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address. "The country will not shut down again due to attitude adopted by certain people...It's not Greece that's a danger, but unvaccinated Greeks."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Greece COVID Vaccine
A new policy in Greece will ban unvaccinated people from indoor public spaces, including theaters and bars, in order to increase inoculations and prevent another nationwide lockdown. An eldery woman gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at the health center of Elafonissos, on the Elafonissos Island, on April 23. ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

COVID-19 infections in Greece have surged since late June, with authorities blaming carelessness at bars and restaurants as well as the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. The number of daily infections per 100,000 residents over seven days rose from 3.5 on June 24 to above 17 now.

Just over 40 percent of residents have been fully vaccinated but appointments to start the vaccine process have been falling in recent weeks—prompting the government to increase the pressure on vaccine skeptics.

Authorities on Thursday will begin accepting vaccination requests from minors over 14 with parental consent.

Lengthy lockdowns and a steep drop in tourism in 2020 halted the country's financial recovery and swung Greece into recession, with the economy contracting 8.2 percent last year. The European Commission says it expects output to rebound by 4.3 percent this year and 6 percent in 2022 if tourism continues to recover and new lockdowns are avoided.

Greek COVID
Greece is enacting strict measures in order to get more people vaccinated to prevent another nationwide lockdown. Tourists watch the changing of the Presidential guards ceremony outside the Greek parliament in central Athens, on Monday. /Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo