April 28, 2020 : We at BritsinCrete have learned from press reports quoting Sotiris Tsiodras Greece’s Health Ministry spokesman, that the Ministry has decided to make wearing of face masks mandatory in closed spaces as the Coronavirus 2020 outbreak continues. Such places include supermarkets, hospitals, pharmacies, hairdressers etc. The decision was taken by a ministry committee comprised of experts. The committee stresses however that careless use of masks will not only not reduce the risk of infection but also increase it. The decision comes as the Greek government slowly re-opens economic activities from May 4, 2020 on the road to normalcy.
Residents in Greece should understand that wearing a mask should not lead to the belief they are fully protected. In other words to have a false sense of security. There is no substitute for social distancing; keeping your hands clean and avoiding you touching the face, meaning the eyes, nose and mouth.
The face mask move by the Greek Health Ministry echoes the view of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control which points out that to wear a face mask reduces the chance of the Coronavirus being spread by those of us who may have been infected but remain asymptomatic (without displaying the obvious signs of being is ill with the Coronavirus Covid-19).
Note: There is some good news for those of us resident on the island of Crete. The island continues to be one of Greece’s least affected areas for reported cases of the Coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, China.
Update: Some confusion arose as to the circumstances when and wear face masks are to be worn.
The fact is, as stated below the masks are compulsory to be worn until further updated advice comes from the Greek Health Ministry. This has been re-confirmed by Aristea Chourdaki, Vice Consul, British Vice Consulate Crete who confirms that on March 29, the Deputy Health Minister Chardalias explicitly stated:
“The use of a protective mask or cover is mandatory by employees as well as passengers on public transportation. Its use is also obligatory for staff and customers, visitors, consumers in super markets, grocery stores, taxis, hair and beauty salons, hospitals, doctor’s offices and diagnostic laboratories. In case of violation, a fine of 150 euros will be imposed.”
For those of you interested, the transcript of yesterday’s press release can be found here in Greek.