Greece will start vaccinating teenagers once it gets the go-ahead from medical experts and will require vaccination certificates or negative tests from everyone heading to its islands from Monday, authorities said.
A small rise in infections last week and concerns over the more contagious Delta variant prompted the government to impose stricter rules to cover the islands.
“The Delta variant is 100% more contagious than the original virus and 40% to 60% more contagious than the British variant,” said Vana Papaevangelou, a member of the committee of infectious disease experts advising the government.
“The question now is how to delay its spread until vaccinations advance more,” she said.
Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said curbs to contain any surges of the pandemic would be localised.
About 44% of Greeks aged over 18 have been vaccinated and the country has been easing restrictions as infections fall.
But amid concerns about the Delta variant, the government has introduced extra incentives to boost vaccination rates in the build-up to the holidays.
Athens earlier this week offered those aged 18-25 cash in exchange for getting a shot.
Papaevangelou said they were now considering advising the government to target youngsters aged 15 to 17.
“June has been an exceptional month. Cases dropped by 75%,” she said at a briefing. But the drop had halted lately, probably due to the Delta variant or a loosening of health rules.
Greece has reported 423,185 cases and 12,710 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
But it relies on tourism for a fifth of its economy and is keen to welcome tourists to save the summer season.
Tourists with a negative COVID test or a vaccination certificate can travel to Greece without the need to quarantine.