Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccination becomes mandatory for all citizens aged over 60 years old.

This new measure was in fact the opening statement at the start of yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

“With this political decision, I am sure that human lives will be saved. By January 16, all unvaccinated citizens over the age of 60 must have made an appointment for a first dose of the vaccine and that they will be given priority when booking vaccinations,” the Prime Minister said.

“Otherwise, every month there will be – for each one – an administrative fine of 100 euros that will be issued by the Authority for Public Revenue (AADE) and this money will be collected in a special fund that will finance our hospitals,” he added stressing the importance of ensuring that age group gets vaccinated.

“We are doing better, but not as much as we should be and not as much as we want. Out of our 580,000 unvaccinated fellow citizens over 60 years old, unfortunately only 60,000 went to get vaccinated.”

In an effort to raise awareness and help more citizens test more often even if they present no symptoms, Mr Mitsotakis announced the provision of a free self-test to every adult from 6 December to 12 December and from 3 January to 7 January in order to have safer gatherings during the Christmas holiday season.

Drawing on the looming concerns over the new ‘Omicron’ variant the Greek Prime Minister underlined the importance of being vigilant and timely in terms of implementing the right policy as immunologists and scientists find out more about the new strain.

“The new ‘Omicron’ variant worries us and calls on us to be vigilant because it reminds us that the coronavirus can constantly surprise us as long as it finds ground to survive, especially among the unvaccinated,” Mr Mitsotakis said.

“We will know more about the ‘Omicron’ variant in about two weeks. Sooner or later, however, it is certain that it will make its appearance in Greece as well. That is why we must continue to implement our policy even faster. In other words, we must save time. Vaccinations, many tests, application of the vaccination certificate and personal protection measures. This is the answer and not a lockdown that some people consider certain.”

Prime Minister finished on a hopeful note, highlighting that the data proves that the government’s national health system model appears to be working, “despite the great difficulties we are facing, pointing out that three in four Greeks over the age of 12 have chosen to be vaccinated. Our country today is second in Europe in terms of people doing the third vaccination dose. In the last few weeks alone, the appointments for the first and third doses in total have exceeded two million”.