Government poised for stricter measures amid projections of over 5,000 COVID-19 cases daily in November

The National Committee on COVID-19 will convene tomorrow to propose a series of possible restrictive public health measures in high-risk red-zones, particularly in northern Greece, and specifically for unvaccinated citizens.

The 5,440 COVID-19 cases confirmed in the last 24 hours by the National Organisation of Public Health have caused heightened concern in the government because the projection of experts is that the number of cases through much of November will be over 5,000 daily, with the accompanying burden on the National Health System.

When some experts projected that level of daily new infections a month ago they were considered overly pessimistic.

The same experts on the National Committee on COVID-19 will convene tomorrow to propose a series of possible restrictive public health measures in high-risk red-zones, particularly in northern Greece, and specifically for unvaccinated citizens.

Inadequate monitoring, inspections

One of the key issues both in red zones and around the country is the lack of broad inspections and fines for establishments – restaurants, bars, cafes, and entertainment venues – that ignore existing regulations regarding checks on vaccination certificates and the separation of vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens.

A very small percentage of inspections lead to detection of violations and fines, even though restaurants, cafes, and bars around the country are packed.

The common conviction of experts who prefer to speak off the record and most others is that inspections are lagging at best, and that when violations are detected, the handling of these cases and the lax procedures followed by police do not stack up in court.

Professors Vana Papaevangelou and Dimosthenis Sarigiannis have projected that there will be over 5,000 new cases daily– the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic -for the foreseeable future

Stricter, more widespread inspections, more rapid tests

The key measure that experts on the COVID-19 Committee are expected to propose is stricter inspections at restaurants, bars, cafes, and entertainment venues, especially in indoors spaces, so as to ensure that vaccination certificates are properly inspected and cross-checked with an ID to determine that the certificate belongs to the specific client. The issuance of false certificates is not uncommon throughout the country.

Inspections at outdoors spaces are also expected to be stepped up as establishments often cover them with nylon panels, effectively turning them into closed spaces.

The experts are also expected to propose that unvaccinated employees take two rapid tests weekly at their own expense (20 euros weekly).

Meanwhile, the battle to persuade wavering or reluctant individuals to be vaccinated is expected to continue without, however, any state public information campaign to speak of in the mass media.

Finally, the government is oriented toward offering incentives to enlist private doctors to bolster the National Health System, especially in northern Greece, where hospitals are already struggling to grapple with an enormous COVID-19 case load because the vaccination rate is about 40 percent.

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