A stiff fine of 150 euros is envisaged for Greeks who flout the new rule calling for the wearing of face masks after May 4, when the first set of coronavirus quarantine measures are lifted.
As of that date, the use of masks is mandatory or strongly recommended in enclosed spaces such as hospitals, supermarkets and grocery stores, retail and other shops, public transport and taxis. This is especially true in areas where there is close physical contact, like in hairdressers, barbershops and beauty parlors and driving license schools.
“We must learn to live with face masks, as we learned to live with helmets on motorcycles and seat belts in cars,” said Greece’s Deputy Development and Investment Minister Nikos Papathanassis on Wednesday to ANT1 TV.
The official said that the limit of one client per 15 square meters (161 square feet) in supermarkets will not change — but in small shops the limit will be four persons per 20 square meters (215 square feet).
“Strict measures for employees and clients will apply, with mandatory use of masks in shops and indoor areas, as well as taxis and means of transport, along with gloves and other protection measures for the staff, as well as disinfection of all areas and of objects,” he said.
Papathanassis also stated that detailed instructions will be issued in the following days on the rules that will apply in each case and type of shop.
The obligatory use of facial masks or covers follows the most recent data on the Covid-19 pandemic, the Health Ministry’s spokesman Sotiris Tsiodras said.
During the daily briefing, Tsiodras defended the introduction of obligatory facial covering in closed spaces and mass transportation, compared to the start of the epidemic in Greece, when masks for the public were not recommended.
He said that “now conditions are new and the use of a mask is for the purposes of not transmitting the virus, not to avoid contracting it.”
The infectious diseases professor was categorically against the use of medical masks (i.e. with valves) by the public, warning that they could create more infection problems. “You can make a mask at home from cloth material,” he said, highlighting however their proper care and use.
Some social media users are complaining that since the masks are deemed compulsory for many Greeks, the state should be providing them for free. They claim that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the price of masks has skyrocketed and that many people cannot afford to use them all the time.