Churchgoers in Greece must prove vaccination status or take COVID test

(Photo: © Sean Hawkey)Primates from the Orthodox Church gathered in a Small Synaxis at the Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery and Orthdox Academy of Crete on June 17, 2016 to consider a "draft message" of the Holy and Great Council.

Greece is now requiring churchgoers to provide proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test, or proof of natural immunity to attend services after a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Over the past two weeks sever European nations including Greece have imposed further restrictions on unvaccinated citizens due to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Politico EU reported.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address on Nov. 18 announcing the new rules that his plan was for the country "to have a better Christmas this year than last year."

He urged Greeks to "vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate."

Now those without a vaccine certificate will be barred from indoor venues such as cinemas, theaters and gyms.

They were already barred from entering restaurants, bars and cafes.

Unvaccinated people will still be able to enter certain essential indoor stores, such as pharmacies and supermarkets, as well as attend church, despite the Church of Greece suggesting negative test results be required for entry.

About 62 percent of Greece's population have received vaccinations so far — below the EU average of some 66 percent — and the rate has stagnated in recent months.

"This is indeed a pandemic of the unvaccinated," said the prime ministe. "Greece is mourning unnecessary losses because it simply does not have the vaccination rates of other European countries."

Despite the push to enforce tighter restrictions, The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox church said in a statement it cannot enforce compliance, CBN News reported.

"​People who work or volunteer ​in ​the Holy Churches have neither the capability nor ​the ​power​ of a public good as the police do,"​ it read.

"The firm position of our Church is that the choice of vaccination is not a matter of good faith or confession, but an object of medical science and an act of individual and social responsibility," it continued.

"Any opposing view, even of the clergy, does not represent the Church of Greece, which is officially governed and expressed only by the Holy Synod."

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