Greece: Tear gas fired during protest of vaccine mandate

International

Greek police use tear gas and water cannons to disperse anti-vaccine protesters during a rally at Syntagma square, central Athens, on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Thousands of people protested against Greek government’s measures to curb rising COVID-19 infections and drive up vaccinations in the country where almost 50% of Greeks and country residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters who gathered Wednesday in Athens to oppose coronavirus vaccination requirements proposed by the Greek government.

The demonstration in front of the parliament building took place hours after the government submitted legislation to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for employees at nursing homes and care facilities.

Under the draft bill, staff members could be suspended without pay starting in mid-August if they fail to comply.

Officers fired the tear gas and water cannons after protesters attempted to break through a police cordon.

Several thousand people also joined a protest rally in Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki.

Vaccinations already were made mandatory for rescue personnel employed by the country’s Fire Service, which began transferring non-vaccinated members of its rescue service to other departments this week.

The Greek government is worried that slowing vaccination rates will hurt the country’s economic recovery after a steep recession last year caused by lockdowns and the pandemic’s impact on the tourism industry.

Roughly 45% of the country’s population has received two vaccine doses, according to daily public health data.

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