Greece plans to impose monthly €100 (AU$159) fines on people aged 60 and older who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine from January 2022.
The European nation announced the measure on Tuesday, with 63 per cent of the country’s population vaccinated. Among the over-60 cohort, 520,000 people are unvaccinated.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he had struggled to make the vaccine compulsory, but it was a necessary step to protect older citizens’ health.
“We are focusing our efforts on protection of our fellow citizens and for this reason their vaccination will be mandatory from now on,” Mitsotakis said.
“Greeks over the age of 60 who have not been vaccinated must, by January 16, book an appointment for their first dose, or else they will face a 100 euro administrative fine every month.”
However, opposition party Syriza blasted the policy as punitive. The measure is yet to be put to a parliamentary vote, although it’s expected to pass.
It comes as Austria also mandates the COVID-19 vaccine, a move that has so far been resisted by most countries.
Austria announced it would reimpose a national lockdown from 22 November, and made vaccination compulsory in a bid to increase the then-66 per cent vaccination rate.
That followed its decision to impose lockdown measures on unvaccinated people aged 12 and older.
Mandatory vaccination will begin from February 2022.
Globally, the emergence of the Omicron variant has epidemiologists and leaders on alert as experts race to assess its virulence.
Locally, Australia has confirmed cases in NSW and the Northern Territory.
Those who fail to comply with the testing, isolation and quarantine rules will see fines increase from $1,000 to $5,000.
And corporations failing to follow the rules will be hit with $10,000 penalties, up from $5,000.