Greece is upping the ante on the nation’s COVID-19 restrictions, imposing monthly fines on senior citizens who refuse to get vaccinated against the virus.
People over the age of 60 who decline to take a COVID-19 vaccine will face a 50-euro ($57) fine in January. That amount will increase to 100 euros ($114) per month moving forward, ABC News reported.
It’s a change that comes as the COVID-19 omicron variant surges and as Greece reportedly comes in below the 70% European Union vaccination average.
About a third of the nation’s 10.7 million residents are currently vaccinated. Greece has had a total of nearly 22,100 deaths and almost 1,680,000 total confirmed cases since the pandemic began.
Officials, who say those aged 60 and above account for the majority of deaths and hospitalizations, believe they will be able to motivate people to vaccinate by imposing the fine, according to Bloomberg.
On Saturday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis encouraged seniors to take the vaccine and stressed its safety as well as its ability to “protect” them.
“To the few of our fellow citizens over 60 who are still unvaccinated, I encourage them today: take the step,” he said. “It’s not a matter of fine, yes the fine will be imposed, but that’s the least. Protect your life, the lives of those you love, and understand that the vaccine is safe.”
Leaders believe they have “exhausted” most other options to push people toward the vaccine.
The monies collected through the nation’s tax office will be diverted to hospitals currently battling COVID-19.
Select groups of people will be spared fines, according to NPR. Individuals with health exemptions, anyone who has had a recent infection, and individuals awaiting home vaccinations will reportedly not be fined.
Outside those exemptions, Giannis Oikonomou, a spokesperson for the Greek government, said, “The law will be fully enforced.”
Greece last year implemented a mandate for health care workers, with this new move adding to the nation’s attempts to curtail the pandemic.
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