Amid intense public debate over privileges offered to COVID-19 vaccinated citizens, as well as over changes in the operation of restaurants and travel by ship, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias told a televised news conference today that unvaccinated citizens will face limitations and difficulties.

Hardalias stressed that there will be no future horizontal measures or lockdowns just in order to protect the unvaccinated.

He said that if needed there will be local, targeted lockdowns that will concern only unvaccinated people and that will not be accompanied by state economic aid.

“Let us make clear that horizontal public health restrictions obviously will not be reinstituted. The economy and society are not going to shut down again just in order to protect the unvaccinated, who have universal, free, and easy access to vaccines.”

“Any restrictive public health measures will be localised or targeted and will apply only to the unvaccinated and will not be accompanied by financial aid. At the same time, the vaccinated will gradually regain the normalcy of their pre-pandemic life along with the rights that were limited over the past months, and that process has already begun,” Hardalias said.

Two-speed society?

Hardalias answered 20 questions that he maintained had been posed by citizens about the “new normalcy”. He declared categorically that the move to distinguish vaccinated from unvaccinated citizens is not a policy that divides society.

“What is being done is self-evident both in terms of the rule of law and public health. Vaccinated citizens begin the return to normalcy and enjoy the rights of which they were deprived for 16 months. At the same time, we are retaining public health rules for the unvaccinated.”

Asked by a journalist if the government is creating a “two-speed society”, Hardalias said, “The vaccinated are not in danger and hence they are not restricted. This is not an issue of punishing the unvaccinated. Citizens must trust scientists. Let us discard conspiracy theories. We are responsible to our fellow citizens,” Hardalias declared.

Covid-19 vaccination not mandatory

Despite the aforementioned distinctions, the government insists that COVID-19 vaccination is not legally mandated.

“Consequently, the state could not draw and impose such a restriction. With the exception of sports fields due to their particularity (small distances between people and shouting, both of which contribute to transmission of the virus) in all other spaces it will be the choice of the owner or businessman whether to make their venue COVID-free or to welcome both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated,” Hardalias said.