Greece bans music in bars over rising COVID cases

From Thursday and until 16 January, "restaurants and entertainment venues will only be able to host tables of six people and music will be banned", he said.

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ATHENS - Greece Wednesday banned music in bars and restaurants in a bid to limit New Year's Eve parties as part of new measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

"Omicron is now the dominant strain and the public health system is under pressure," Health Minister Thanos Plevris said in a televised address.

From Thursday and until 16 January, "restaurants and entertainment venues will only be able to host tables of six people and music will be banned", he said.

"Bars and restaurants will close at midnight, but will be authorised to stay open until 2am on 31 December - still without music," he added.

Greece has been forced to implement the measures earlier than expected after the country on Tuesday announced a new record of 21,657 daily COVID-19 infections.

As part of the new restrictions, initially planned for 3 January, 50% of employees in the public and private sectors should work from home, up from 20% previously.

Catering staff and people who want to go grocery shopping or take public transport must wear either a FFP2 face mask or two medical masks one on top of the other.

All public New Year's Eve events have been cancelled, and the minister urged Greeks to test for COVID before any necessary family gatherings.

Greece has recorded 1,105,885 coronavirus cases and 20,557 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

On 14 December, the country said a record 130 people had died of COVID in 24 hours, but that daily figure has since dropped below 100.