Greece, like France, is following in the footsteps of Italy, which made COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory to some sectors of the population.
Protests and demonstrations have become “fairly common” across Greece these past few months. While the issues varied, the recent rally centered on the opposition toward COVID-19 vaccines.
On Wednesday, thousands of anti-vaccine protesters gathered in the nation’s two largest cities. In Athens alone, more than 5,000 Greeks joined the movement, with some of them waving flags and wooden crosses, according to Reuters.
Anti-vaccine rallies in Athens, Thessaloniki
The rallyists in the capital protested against the country’s vaccination program. Apart from this, they also reportedly called on the Prime Minister’s resignation.
It all took place outside parliament with a heavy police presence. As reported, it was the “biggest show of opposition to the inoculation drive.”
Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, saw the same scenario on Wednesday. Many protestors met and rallied in the northern region to voice out their opposition to coronavirus vaccines, as well as vaccination mandates.
New COVID-19 vaccination mandate in Greece
The demonstrations followed Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ announcements on Monday. He said that vaccinations would be “mandatory for nursing home staff, effective immediately,” according to CNN.
The country’s leader continued that individuals who refuse to follow the new mandate will observe a suspension from work starting on August 16. He, then, added that vaccinations against COVID-19 will become compulsory, as well, for all healthcare workers from September.
Apart from the mandatory vaccinations, Mitsotakis also provided new guidance on the restrictions. He stated that only fully vaccinated individuals may visit indoor commercial areas starting on July 16 until the end of August. These include bars, theaters, cinemas, and all other entertainment centers.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron released a similar mandate on the same day in France. He said that the compulsory vaccinations will apply to all healthcare workers, including care home employees, starting this September 15.
France and Greece’s latest vaccination directives follow Italy’s mandates, which started in April. This comes as the new cases of coronavirus infections continue to increase due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The country’s vaccination drive in numbers
Despite the significant hesitancy over the COVID-19 vaccines across the country, it is one of the nations with a high vaccination rate.
To date, Greece has administered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines to over 50 percent of its total population. As for the fully vaccinated individuals, the rate is 42.1 percent. This equates to 4.39 million, in numbers.
Images courtesy of The Economist/YouTube