Greece has become the latest country to require proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, theaters, or other indoor venues.
The rule, which went into effect Friday, is similar to regulations imposed last week in France as Europe deals with rising coronavirus numbers due to the Delta variant.
Entering an indoor restaurant, bar, or theater requires the customer to show proof of vaccination or recent recovery from COVID. Children who are too young to qualify for the vaccine can enter with a negative test.
The new measures will remain in effect until at least the end of August when government and health officials will evaluate where things stand in the country.
The package of new rules also mandates that only seated customers will be permitted in restaurants or bars, meaning no dancing and no standing at the bar. It also sets the limit on all venues at 85 percent capacity.
Business owners were not too concerned about the mandates.
“At the moment, it’s the middle of summer, people prefer being outside under the trees, and people don’t want to sit indoors,” Sprios Bairaktaris, owner of a tavern in Athens, told the Associated Press.
He added that he had no issue with the changes. “We adhere to all the measures with total safety,” he said. “Whatever the doctors or scientists advise,” he added.
Health officials said they would not be shy about enforcing the new rules. The first offense carries a fine of between 200 and 500 euros (about $235 to $600) depending on venue size and forced closure for one week. The fine rises to 10,000 euros (about $11,800) and a 15-day closure for a second offense. A third offense will result in a business losing its license for 60 days.
In a separate action, government officials banned music in bars and restaurants and imposed a curfew on the island of Mykonos. Health officials have become alarmed about a rise in coronavirus cases on the popular tourist island.
“We call on the residents, visitors and professionals on our beautiful island to strictly follow the measures so that we can quickly control and contain the spreading of the virus and Mykonos can return to normality,” the Civil Protection Ministry said.
Local officials were not happy with the decision, Reuters reported. Mayor Konstantinos Koukas called the rules “unfair” and “misguided.”
“Mykonos cannot be the only island where music won’t be heard,” Koukas said. “The only thing this will achieve is that visitors will go to another island.”Since the pandemic began, Greece has recorded a little more than 450,000 cases and just shy of 13,000 deaths. The nation is still recording about 1,800 new cases a day, including about 20 per day from visitors to the country. The median age for those who test positive is 42.