A Greek health minister announced on Wednesday that commercial venues will not be permitted to have music at New Year’s celebrations amid a steep spike in COVID-19 infections due to the omicron variant.
These restrictions were scheduled to take effect on Jan. 3, but were moved up to be implemented on Thursday.
In addition to these restrictions, the measures include requiring high protection masks in supermarkets and on public transit as well as work-from-home orders for government employees and capacity limits at sports events, according to The Associated Press.
Entertainment venues will be required to close at midnight on Thursday, but will be allowed to stay open until 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, the AP added.
The policy comes as after the country saw almost 22,000 infections on Tuesday, more than double the previous day’s record-setting numbers, the wire service reported.
“Omicron is now the dominant variant in terms of new infections,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris said Wednesday, per the AP.
The policies for the upcoming holiday follow Greece’s previously imposed restrictions banning public Christmas celebrations this year.
The World Health Organization reported that COVID-19 cases around the world had increased by 11 percent last week compared to the week before.
While the agency said that the delta variant is the dominant strain of COVID-19 in parts of the world, it added that “consistent evidence” indicated that “the overall risk related to the new variant … omicron remains very high.”