Guest post by Anonymous
Greece is one the very few countries on the planet, if not the only one, that has enforced covid-19 measures of unprecedented austerity to the public. A number of measures that hold up to date and have impacted tremendously the lives of the Greek people are presented below.
Unvaccinated employees of the Greek public sector were obligated to undergo and show proof of a negative rapid or PCR covid-19 test, once a week, in order to physically work at their workplace, from September 13th until November 5th of 2021, done at their own expenses. Since October 16th of 2021, the above-mentioned testing requirements were also applied to the private sector unvaccinated employees. As of 6th of November 2021, until today, all unvaccinated employees of both public and private sectors are obliged to provide their services physically at the workplace, and as prerequisite they have to undergo covid-19 testing twice a week and show proof of a negative rapid or PCR test, at their own expenses. Regarding the public sector employees, scanning QR codes for negative covid-19 test certificates from the head of the sector unit to which the unvaccinated employees are assigned, is a sine qua non in order for the unvaccinated employees to be authorized to offer their services physically at their workplace. In case of non-compliance with the testing requirements, employees are subject to a fine of Euro 300. It should be mentioned that the overwhelming majority of unvaccinated employees are not permitted to work entirely remotely. Indeed, although the unvaccinated employees, under the guise of public health protection, are subjected to very strict covid-19 testing, they are not authorized to a more extended use of remote work than their vaccinated counterparts, notwithstanding the nature of the provided work. The minimum wage in Greece used to be Euro 650 and as of January 1st of 2022, amounts Euro 663. The cost of covid-19 PCR tests is capped at Euro 47, and for rapid antigen tests at Euro 10. Furthermore, although the unvaccinated employees continue to be burdened with social security contributions, thereby contributing to the financing of the Social Security System, they are not permitted to undergo a rapid test conducted at public test facilities, free of cost. Thus, unvaccinated employees, who are extremely healthy and without any covid-19 symptoms, have to unwillingly undergo compulsory testing and pay a ticket in order to go to their work!!!
Social and Cultural activities
Furthermore, unvaccinated individuals are also excluded from social life and cultural activities: as of July 16th, 2021, until today, they cannot access indoor spaces of restaurants, cafes, pubs and entertainment venues (e.g., night clubs, bars etc.). As of September 1st, 2021, access to exhibition centers, indoor spaces of playgrounds (for unvaccinated individuals accompanying minors) is also prohibited. As of September 6th, 2021, the unvaccinated cannot enter, escape rooms, polo and bowling centers and they can only access gyms with a negative rapid or PCR covid-19 test (as of September 20th, 2021). As of November 6th 2021, until today, the unvaccinated can only enter by showing a negative rapid or PCR covid-19 test, into: banks, public services, retail shops, outdoor eating areas, hair, nail and beauty salons, zoo, wetlands and amusement parks, and outdoor spaces of playgrounds.Moreover, as of November 22nd, 2021 access to museums, cinemas, theaters, gyms and sports venues is completely prohibited to unvaccinated individuals and they can only enter hotels by showing a negative rapid or PCR covid-19 test. In case of any violations, business owners can face a fine of up to Euro 10,000 and suspension of business operation for 15 days. For businesses violating the rules for a second time the fine is up to Euro 20,000 and suspension of business operation for 30 days. If violation of the rules happens for a third time, businesses will have their operating license temporarily removed for a period of 60 days. In addition, unvaccinated individuals are deprived of the fundamental right of religious freedom, since, as of November 22nd, 2021, they can enter places of worship, (e.g., churches, mosques etc.) only by showing a negative rapid or PCR covid-19 test. It should be noted that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, must be subject to a painful process in order to enter the aforementioned facilities: the venue staff have to scan the QR code of the relevant certificate (e.g., vaccination, virus recovery or negative rapid/PCR covid-19 test) through the electronic software Covid Free Gr and ask for identification (such as identity card or passport) too. This way, the Greek government infringes EU legislation concerning personal data protection.
Rights of children
Moreover, an issue of high importance is that the measures against unvaccinated individuals are punitive not only for themselves, but also for their family members, especially children. The deterioration of living conditions for the children of unvaccinated individuals due to the decreased family income and the restricted possibilities for access to facilities (such as playgrounds, theaters, churches etc.) does not seem to have any legal or moral grounds and could have devastating consequences on the psychological state of minors. It is unforgivable that the Greek government in its attempt to blackmail the unvaccinated adults to have the jab, does not care at all for the repercussion of the measures to their children.
Health care personnel
It should be also noted that the hospitals face a drastic shortage of health personnel, intra alia, due to the fact that 7,000 unvaccinated health care professionals are suspended from their jobs. As of September, 1st, 2021, the Greek government has mandated covid-19 vaccination for all health care professionals, thus leading those who remain unvaccinated to the absolute impoverishment, as the latter do not receive a salary and do not have the right to practice their jobs as freelancers. Greece’s health minister, Thanos Plevris, threatens to fire unvaccinated health care professionals from the National Health System (ESY) by March 31st, 2022.
Some latest discriminatory measures
As of February 7th, 2022, vaccinated individuals in Greece, aged 18 or over, have to receive a booster shot against covid-19, lest they will be considered unvaccinated as their vaccination certificates will be expired seven months after the last covid-19 dose. It should be noted that the validity period of EU Digital Covid-19 certificates is 9 months after the completion of the primary vaccination series (a primary 2-dose vaccination series or a single-dose vaccination).
Meanwhile, Greek residents over 60 who have not been vaccinated are required by Law 4865/2021, article 24, to have booked at least the first dose of a vaccine by January 16th, 2022, otherwise they have to pay a fine of Euro 100 for every month they haven’t had the jab. The fines are certified and imposed by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue (AADE). The administrative fine notice communicated to the elderly unvaccinated individuals states that they have to pay a fine of Euro 100 for their infringement.
Resolutions of the Council of Europe and non-compliance of the Greek government
The Council of Europe Resolution 2361 (2021) ‘COVID-19 vaccines: ethical, legal and practical considerations’, urges Member States and the EU to ensure citizens are informed that vaccination is not mandatory and that no one suffers any form of discrimination because they choose not to be vaccinated. Moreover, the Council of Europe Resolution 2383/2021, Paragraphs 3 and 8, imposes that until clear scientific evidence exists that vaccine pass holders are non-contagious, the relief of restrictions in their favor would be discriminatory.
How are the discriminatory measures against the unvaccinated individuals introduced by the Greek government compatible with the above stated Resolutions of the Council of Europe?
Democracy at stake
The Greek government has imposed all these measures that offend blatantly human dignity and democracy, under the pretext of the necessity to further increase the national quota for vaccination. The Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, described the unvaccinated individuals as free riders and admitted that the adopted measures aim at making their lives difficult. Several ministers of the government, in an attempt to escape their own responsibilities, incessantly demonized the unvaccinated individuals as guilty of the very bad epidemiological performance of Greece.
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