Greece will open up to holidaymakers by July and Brits will be included – The Sun
GREECE is hoping to open to holidaymakers by July – and British tourists WILL be included.
Senior Greek officials explained that popular destinations will open for business once strict lockdown measures are relaxed.
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However, international visitors will have to provide immunity certificates or health passports to be allowed into the country.
Greece’s minister of state Giorgos Gerapetritis told THEMA 104.6 radio station: "We are a country that will be open to all, not only because we are the best tourist destination, but because competing destinations are in great difficulty."
The country has managed to keep cases of coronavirus low, with just 2,517 confirmed infections, while many islands such as Santorini have managed to avoid the virus altogether.
But he clarified that cross-border entry would be conditioned on holidaymakers carrying some kind of health passport.
"Negotiations are underway,” he added. “Visitors will come with some sort of certificate. We are going to try to reduce any possibility of the virus spreading."
The statement follows confirmation from Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theoharis that Athens is in talks with big UK tour operators – discussions aimed squarely at opening up resorts on islands that are especially popular with Brits.
Last week, he explained: "Our goal is for the season to begin in July and perhaps extend through October or November.
"Tour operators are hopeful and just waiting to see what the health safeguards, the new rules, will be."
Much, he added, would depend on how long the season was and whether the British companies felt the prospects were economically viable to begin flying customers out.
Restrictions on movement will be eased as of next week with the Greek prime minister addressing the nation tomorrow.
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Greece saw a record 33 million visitors overall, which brought €18.2 billion to the Greek economy – numbers expected to be drastically lower this year.
How the health certificates will work in practice has yet to be decided but senior Greek officials suggested the documents may involve passengers being subject to Covid-19 blood tests before boarding planes.
Emirates began successfully administering rapid on-site blood tests at Dubai International Airport, the carrier’s home base, earlier this month and is now planning to expand the measure to a broader selection of flights.
The Greek tourism minister told his counterparts that EU member states should adopt a “common strategy of protocols and measures” that would apply to airports and airlines, hotels and restaurants to accelerate the sector’s return to normalcy.
Holiday resorts are likely to still have social distancing guidelines, as well as changes being made to airports and public transport.
Swimming pools, hotel minibars and tour buses could all be forced to follow strict guidelines, or even be stopped indefinitely. Theoharis explained: "If we are to think of the possibility of travelling this year it has to be under specific new rules.
"We have to have new rules for hotels, new rules for beaches, new rules for pools, new rules for breakfast buffets, new rules for tour buses."
He also said that larger resorts are likely to struggle with changes due to the high footfall from visitors, adding: "There are so many questions, like how many people can you have in a pool, are buffets out and what if someone falls sick?"
More than 65 per cent of hotels on the mainland and on the islands are facing bankruptcy as the country only just began to recover.
The tourism minister also explained that the new rules have to make "economic sense".
He said: "For example, you can only fly with 10 people on a plane to be deemed safe then obviously there will be no flight."
He previously explained the focus was now on ensuring the season began in July and ran at the very least through to September, even if a lot of hotels were on course not to open this year.
Other countries are also discussing new rules for tourists when they eventually return.
Italy are looking into social distancing guidelines for beaches at tourist resorts, with plans for roped off areas, 1.5m distances between loungers, and even plexi-glass pods for families to sit in.
Spain's once-packed beaches may never be the same again as tourism leaders admit holiday-makers will have to sunbathe 6ft apart even after the end of the coronavirus crisis.
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