Update – 08/07/2021
July 8, 2021
July 8, 2021
As of the latest update by the Greek authorities, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosed cases in Greece is 430,960. 9 new deaths were reported raising the total number to 12,763. The number of patients treated in intensive care units is currently 159. 1,820 new cases were announced yesterday in Greece. 1,061 of the new cases were found in the Attica region and 51 new cases in the Thessaloniki region.
An alarming 8.5% of hundreds of Covid-19 tests conducted on residents of the southern Athens suburb of Glyfada have come back positive, the municipal authority warned in an announcement on Wednesday.
“Even though it is summer, none of us should let down out guard. The virus is here, and we must, all together, pre-empt and avoid the worst,” Mayor Giorgos Papanikolaou said, urging residents of the popular seaside town to come forward and “get this quick test.”
Hundreds of tests were carried out on Wednesday in front of town hall by a mobile unit sent from the National Organization for Public Health (EODY), which will remain in the broader vicinity through the weekend.
Testing has also picked up in nearby Alimos and Palaio Faliro, after EODY on Tuesday reported a significant spike in infections and warned that a good number of new infections have been traced back to nightclubs and parties on the capital’s waterfront.
Greek bar and nightclub owners fear new restrictions allowing seated customers only will hit business during the vital summer season but said on Wednesday they accept the rules are needed to contain a surge in Covid-19 infections.
Authorities reimposed curbs on restaurants, nightclubs and bars this week, with effect from July 8. No standing customers will be allowed.
“It is a step back, it will surely influence tourism, but it is deemed necessary so we do not lose the rest of the summer. We will be patient,” said Ilias Babatsikos, 27, a beach bar manager at Athens’ coastal suburb of Alimos.
Health experts are concerned about a recent spike in infections and the more contagious Delta variant. On Tuesday health authorities reported 1,797 new confirmed infections, more than twice the level seen on Monday.
Babatsikos said it would be difficult to discipline people but hoped customers would respect the measures.
Authorities said on Tuesday many of the new cases involved young people and were linked to entertainment venues.
Premises found to be violating the new rules will face hefty fines and repeat offenders could lose their operating licences.
“I believe it was the wrong decision because at bars made for people to stand it is very difficult to have to tell someone they must sit down,” said Marios Markou, 37, who manages a bar in central Athens. “This is going to cause a lot of damage.”
About 38% of Greece’s eligible population is fully vaccinated and the government has offered incentives to entice more people to get the jab, including cash and free mobile data for youth, to bring that rate up to 70% by the autumn.
“It’s a very unfortunate development but we understand why it’s happening,” said businessman Kosmas Theodoridis, 48, a customer at a bar in Athens. “The essential thing is for everyone to get vaccinated.”
Amid yet another downward revision of forecasts for this year’s revenues, tourism operators are also adapting, in view of a new fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Indeed, the resurgence of the pandemic may lead to a review of Greek policy toward inbound tourism and, even more likely, European policy.
It is nonetheless hard to chart a clear course for tourism before the end of July, when both the results of the latest epidemiological spike and the progress of vaccinations are assessed.
What is clear, however, is that the goal set earlier this year to recover 50% of tourism activity in 2019 (about 9.1 billion euros) is now considered by tourism market officials to be unattainable.
On a brighter note, Britain announced that from July 19 its vaccinated citizens will be able to visit countries on the amber list, such as Greece, without having to quarantine on their return.
If there are no changes to the decision, and as long as potential travelers are not put off by a worsening of the pandemic, the decision may pave the way for a significant – compared to last year – number of visitors from Greece’s second largest tourism market.
For his part, Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis told Kathimerini that without ignoring the existing and justified concern about the developments on the pandemic front, “we can only assess as particularly positive some factors, such as the number of arrivals during June.”
Given that June was essentially the opening month of Greek tourism in 2021, Theocharis said the data regarding the number of travelers is encouraging.
“We did much better than the corresponding month last year, while now the decision of the British government to lift the restrictions on its vaccinated citizens is very important and we expect a positive impact on Greek tourism,” he said.
He also noted that many British tourists, despite the recent obligation to quarantine after returning to their country, chose to visit Greece.
He stressed, however, that the protection of public health remains the absolute priority. “We will not hesitate to tighten the health protocols,” he said, adding that ”from the first moment, the message was: We open safely – we follow the protocols – we speed up the vaccinations.”
In more detail, the 1,820 new cases detected per Regional Unit: