The interval period for the coronavirus vaccine booster dose will be reduced to five months cabinet decided on Wednesday, as it also adjusted the health protocols for minors and nursing homes.
The booster dose change from five and a half to five months comes into effect on Friday.
Also as of Friday, unvaccinated minors aged 12 to 17 will be able to visit cafes, restaurants, theatres and cinemas upon presentation of a negative coronavirus test.
Entry will be permitted only if minors are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent or guardian and upon presentation of a negative 72-hour PCR or rapid test for coronavirus.
The age group was banned, along with all adults, from venues including cafes, restaurants, theatres and cinemas, stadiums and venue halls as of December 15 last year. Entry in the above spaces, as well as bars and nightclubs, is only allowed to those with at least one dose of the vaccine.
Health Ministry spokesman Constantinos Athanasiou clarified that there has been no approval to date for the administration of booster dose for minors.
Hence the SafePass for children who were vaccinated does not expire seven months after the second dose as the rule stands for adults, he added.
“A relevant decision will be taken from the competent national vaccination advisory committee, preceding a corresponding decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA),” Athanasiou said.
Furthermore, nursing home staff who have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus will be required to present a negative 72-hour PCR or rapid test, while unvaccinated personnel will be required to present a 24-hour PCR or rapid test.
Earlier in the day, it emerged the health ministry allows, in exceptional cases, some nursing home staff who tested positive to coronavirus to keep working.
Athanasiou told the state radio this arrangement is made when there are no staff available and only for the care of the residents who have also tested positive, so that elderly people are not left without help.
Regarding the test to stay programme, cabinet said it will be expanded to the national guard, following its introduction in schools last month. The programme was also extended to health professionals in public and private hospitals, police and the fire department but has still to be enforced.
The date of implementation of the measure in the national guard will be announced following consultations with the defence ministry.
The measures were announced following proposals by the health ministry, reached on Tuesday during a meeting of Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas and the health ministry’s epidemiological team.
The ministry said there has been an increase on coronavirus cases across all ages, excluding those aged 50 to 69.
Some 15,494 new infections were recorded between January 22 and 28, 2022.
Saying it constantly evaluates all scientific and epidemiological data with the scientific advisory committee, the health ministry reiterated its appeal to people to demonstrate individual responsibility by observing health protocols.