European nations impose incentives, penalties to boost shots

Jul 16, 2021, 11:47 PM | Updated: Jul 17, 2021, 12:48 am
People sit at a restaurant in the Plaka district of Athens on Friday July 16, 2021. Greece became t...

People sit at a restaurant in the Plaka district of Athens on Friday July 16, 2021. Greece became the latest on Friday, with a new measure coming into effect requiring proof of vaccination or recent recovery from COVID-19 for access to indoor restaurants, cafes, bars and movie theaters. Children can enter with negative tests. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — European nations are scrambling to ramp up vaccination drives, using a carrot-and-stick approach to persuade the reluctant to get their shots as the more transmissible delta variant drives a surge in infections.

Greece became the latest to enact new restrictions on Friday, requiring proof of vaccination or recent recovery from COVID-19 for access to indoor restaurants, cafes, bars and movie theaters. Children can enter with negative tests.

The measure, part of a package of government incentives, had little immediate effect as virtually all public life moves outdoors during Greece’s hot, dry summers. Sidewalk cafes and restaurants and open-air movie theaters remain accessible to all.

“At the moment it’s the middle of summer, people prefer being outside, under the trees, and people don’t want to sit indoors,” said Sprios Bairaktaris, owner of a popular Greek taverna in the tourist district of Athens that has both indoor and outdoor areas.

Nevertheless, he was still implementing the government measure, only allowing customers with COVID-19 certificates to be seated inside.

“We adhere to all the measures with total safety. Whatever the doctors or scientists advise,” he said.

Outdoor clubs and music venues in Greece will also be accessible only to the fully vaccinated or recently recovered, with capacity capped at 85% and no standing customers.

But just as the measure came into effect in Greece, the Russian capital repealed a similar one introduced last month.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the requirement for restaurants to only admit customers with proof of vaccination or a negative test ends Monday as the pace of contagion has slowed. The restrictions had badly hurt restaurant owners, already reeling from the pandemic’s impact, forcing many to close.

Some European countries have also introduced mandatory vaccinations for certain professions. Italy made vaccinations obligatory in April for health care workers and pharmacists. France and Greece announced mandatory vaccines this week for health care workers and care home staff, with France extending the requirement to those caring for an elderly or sick person at home.

France also announced mandatory COVID-19 passes for access to restaurants, bars, shopping malls and many tourist spots, as well as trains and planes, as of July 21. The passes are available to anyone fully vaccinated, recently recovered or who has a recent negative test.

The regulations have sparked protests, with thousands protesting Wednesday in Greek and French cities. More demonstrations are planned Saturday in France.

But the incentives appear to work for some people.

“On Tuesday, we realized that everything will be closed for us if we are not vaccinated so we started to look for an appointment,” said 15-year-old Parisian Chloe Dril, waiting with her mother to get vaccinated. “We noticed that for train tickets it was much more complicated if we are not vaccinated, if we want to go abroad it will be more complicated, so it really pushed us to get vaccinated.”

Some business owners are uncomfortable with having to enforce the rules.

“It’s a shame that we got to the point where we have to create these incentives for people to get vaccinated,” said Clément Léon, owner of Le Picoti bar in Paris. “On the other hand, forcing bar owners to play the part of border police officers asking for their clients’ papers is also an issue. From a legal standpoint, it bothers me.”

Greece has seen a surge in new infections driven by the delta variant, although the rate of new hospitalizations has been slower. Vaccines have been available to anyone 18 or over for several weeks and became available this week to those over 15. Incentives to get vaccinated have included 150 euros ($180) credit to spend on entertainment and travel for anyone under 26 who gets a shot.

Cyprus has also seen an alarming increase in infections, prompting the government on Friday to announce new regulations,. They include proof of COVID-19 status for access to public transport, banks, state services, businesses and to visit care homes. Dance clubs will only be open to the vaccinated and recently recovered.

Britain is also making vaccinations mandatory this fall for nursing home workers and the government has been considering extending that to National Health Service employees. Parliament approved the measure despite strong opposition from some lawmakers and warnings from nursing homes that it could worsen staff shortages.

“You’d expect this in a communist country,” commented Conservative legislator William Wragg.

England plans to lift its remaining coronavirus restrictions on Monday. The Conservative government says it expects bars and nightclubs to check customers’ COVID-19 status, but it won’t be a legal requirement. Many businesses say they just won’t do it.

Music Venue Trust chief executive Mark Davyd said vaccine passports were “a complete non-starter at the moment.”

“Very, very few venues are going to do this,” he said, noting that fake vaccine passports were already available online for eager partygoers.

____

AP reporters across Europe contributed to this report.

___

Follow all AP stories on the global coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates attends a meeting with South Korea's National Assembly Speaker...
Associated Press

Gates eyes partnership with South Korea over global health

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Bill Gates on Tuesday called for South Korea to further step up in international efforts to prevent infectious diseases like COVID-19 as he stressed the need for the world to be better prepared for the next pandemic. Speaking to South Korean lawmakers in Seoul, Gates called for stronger international cooperation, […]
1 hour ago
Supporters of Deputy President and presidential candidate William Ruto celebrate his victory over o...
Associated Press

Kenya calm a day after chaotic presidential declaration

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya is calm on Tuesday, a day after the declaration of Deputy President William Ruto as the winner of the narrow presidential election over longtime opposition figure Raila Odinga — a vote closely watched in the East African country that has been crucial to regional stability. There were protests by Odinga […]
1 hour ago
A currency trader walks by screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), right, an...
Associated Press

Asian shares mostly higher, echoing Wall Street rebound

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares mostly rose Tuesday after a rebound on Wall Street, despite regional investor risks reflected in negative economic data out of China. The benchmark in Tokyo was little changed, erasing earlier gains, but indexes in South Korea and Australia gained. Hong Kong’s benchmark slipped, while Shanghai shares rose. Falling oil prices […]
1 hour ago
FILE - In this photo released by the Taiwan Legislative Yuan, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left...
Associated Press

China sets sanctions on Taiwan figures to punish US, island

BEIJING (AP) — China imposed visa bans and other sanctions Tuesday on Taiwanese political figures as it raises pressure on the self-governing island and the U.S. in response to successive congressional visits. The sanctions come a day after China set more military exercises in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan in response to what it […]
1 hour ago
A man looks out from an apartment destroyed after Russian shelling in Nikopol, Ukraine, Monday, Aug...
Associated Press

2 injured in fire at ammunition storage site on Crimea

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A fire at an ammunition storage site on Crimea left two people injured on Tuesday, local officials said, coming a week after a series of explosions at an air base on the peninsula that was annexed from Ukraine by Russia. The blaze and blasts rattled the village of Mayskoye in the […]
1 hour ago
FILE - Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud throws during the first half in the Rose Bowl NCAA colleg...
Associated Press

AP Top 25 Reality Check: Pouring caution on that optimism

Low expectations rarely disappoint. That’s not to say your favorite team will fail to live up to the promise that comes with landing a spot in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 college football poll presented by Regions Bank that was released Monday. But numbers suggest it is best to sprinkle a healthy amount of […]
1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
European nations impose incentives, penalties to boost shots