According to the Associated Press (AP), elderly individuals who remain unvaccinated will be fined €50 ($57) on the first instance. If they insist on turning down the vaccine, they will be fined €100 ($113) every month moving forward.
Health Minister Thanos Plevris said the country's tax service will be in charge of collecting the penalties. The collected fines will then be directed to helping state-run hospitals. "The age factor is important because of its impact on the public health service," he told Open TV on Jan. 16.
Giannis Oikonomou, spokesman for the Greek government, reiterated that "the law will be fully enforced." However, he mentioned that those with valid health concerns are exempt from the new mandate. Greeks who recovered from a recent COVID-19 infection and those who had delayed home vaccination appointments are exempted likewise, Oikonomou added.
AP reported that 41.5 percent of the 530,000 elderly Greeks the measure targets have now been fully vaccinated – based on government data. Last year, Greece announced that all health care workers must receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Related: EU countries set to begin fining and jailing citizens who refuse COVID-19 vaccine.)
About 69 percent of the nation's population is fully vaccinated – trailing behind the European Union average of 70.3 percent. The B11529 omicron variant caused a spike in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in Greece, but those arising from the earlier B16172 delta variant formed the overwhelming majority.
Aside from the fines on the unvaccinated, Greece also implemented a new measure – this time for people who are already vaccinated. Starting Feb. 1, adult vaccine passports seven months old will be deemed expired if the holder does not get a COVID-19 booster dose.
Greece is not the only nation that announced plans to fine unvaccinated citizens. Earlier, Austria also announced it will fine citizens who continue to turn down the COVID-19 vaccine on a monthly basis.
Vienna announced details of the measure – which applies to all Austrians aged 14 and up – on Dec. 9, 2021. Unvaccinated individuals can face fines of of up to €3,600 ($4,082) every three months – amounting to €1,200 ($1,360) per month. These fines can be waived if they present proof of vaccination. (Related: Austria mandates COVID-19 vaccines for ALL residents; those who refuse will pay steep fines.)
According to Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein, officials can impose a smaller fine to violators. "In regular proceedings, the amount of the fine is €3,600 ($4,082). As an alternative, the authorities have the option to impose a fine in shorter proceedings. Here, the amount is €600 ($681)," he said.
The Austrian government approved this proposal, with Austrian Prime Minister Karl Nehammer announcing the approval on Jan. 16. He explained that the plan to fine unvaccinated Austrians would proceed as planned – in three phases. Nehammer added that the entirety of February 2022 would serve as a transition period to convince unvaccinated to get the shot.
The first phase to start in mid-March 2022 would involve authorities checking the vaccination status of all Austrians 18 years old and above. The second phase would be implemented "if the progress of the vaccination rate is still not sufficient," with unvaccinated people being sent reminder letters to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Non-compliance with these letters will merit the aforementioned fines.
Under the third phase, unvaccinated Austrians would receive a letter with a vaccination appointment date – with additional fines awaiting those who fail to show up. Nehammer said: "In the best case scenario, we won't even need this third phase."
Watch the video below of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis claiming that Greece's fine on the unvaccinated is not a punishment.
MedicalMartialLaw.com has more on countries around the world imposing fines on the unvaccinated.