Three Jailed in Greece After a Principal was Handcuffed Over Virus Measures

The authorities in northern Greece have jailed three people and placed restrictions on eight others over an attack on a school principal related to virus restrictions.

The police said the group of people handcuffed the principal on Friday and drove him to a local precinct, suggesting that officers arrest him for enforcing Covid measures at the school that they said breached constitutional freedoms.

Instead, the members of the group, which calls itself the Guardians of the Constitution, were detained. The 11 — nine men and two women — face abduction charges along with a string of lesser offenses, including disturbing the peace and violating measures aimed at preventing the spread of disease. Three of them have children who attend the school, according to one of their lawyers, who said they were protesting the measures and had not intended to hurt the principal.

In recent weeks, the Greek authorities have amplified efforts to crack down on those actively opposing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Last week, Greece’s conservative government adopted a law that calls for a prison sentence of up to two years for parents who refuse to send their children to school because of virus measures, which include regular testing and mask-wearing.

Vaccine hesitancy is moderately strong in Greece, where 62.8 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated compared with the European Union average of 66.9 percent, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

In a bid to bolster a slow-moving vaccination drive last month, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece announced that vaccinations for people over 60 would be mandatory as of mid-January and that those who failed to follow the new rules would face a monthly fine of 100 euros, or about $113. The move came a few weeks after the imposition of new restrictions for the unvaccinated.

Average daily cases have declined slightly after a sharp spike in November, though deaths remain high, near the level they were a year ago. The Greek authorities are concerned about the spread of the Omicron variant, but so far tests suggest that the variant accounts for a small fraction of cases, according to the country’s National Public Health Organization.


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