Health experts call for ban on traditional festivals following meeting chaired by PM

The health ministry’s expert committee for tackling Covid-19 on Monday recommended that the government ban traditional festivals throughout the country until the end of July, intensify testing at the land borders and extend testing to seasonal workers from neighbouring countries, in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in Greece.

The committee convened in a video conference on Monday, chaired by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, following a decision made at a meeting to review the national plan for protection against the coronavirus held earlier on Monday, chaired by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. This also concluded with a decision to step up testing for Covid at the land borders, especially at Promachonas and Albania.

“The government is constantly monitoring developments, talking to the experts and taking any measures that are necessary,” government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said during the regular press briefing.

He announced that the meeting had made the following decisions:
– To step up targeted random testing at the gateways into the country, with emphasis on the Promachonas border crossing. According to Petsas, out of a total 67.797 tests carried out on arrivals at the country’s borders on July 1-11, 218 had tested positive or just 0.35 pct. The rate at Promachonas, however, was roughly fourfold that of other entrance points, such as the Athens international airport. As of Wednesday, when arrivals have to display certification that they have taken a negative PCR test for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours, there will be an extremely thorough inspection of the documents presented and sanctions if these are inauthentic or forged.
– Tighter controls of the border crossings with Albania, at Kakavia and Krystallopigi.
– Greece will go ahead with the resumption of direct flights from the UK on July 15 and Sweden on July 22, while it will examine the resumption of flights from non-EU countries – such as the US – from the end of July with the submission of a negative PCR test for Covid-19 carried out up to 72 hours before the date of arrival in Greece.
– The infections diseases expert committee was asked to examine possible restrictions to combat laxness in the implementation of Covid-19 protection measures within the country, such as a ban on country fairs and festivals, or other events where there is crowding and large numbers of people congregate in close proximity, possibly up to the end of July.

The meeting was attended by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, Deputy Civil Protection and Crises Management Minister Nikos Hardalias and infectious diseases expert Prof. Sotiris Tsiodras.


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