As Greece prepares to reopen for foreign visitors in a bid to get its crucial tourism sector back on its feet, the government said Friday that flights from coronavirus hotspots such as Britain would not be allowed in, at least for now.
And all passengers from Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are to undergo tests upon arrival, the tourism and health ministers said as the country prepares for foreign visitors for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown in March.
Tourism minister Harry Theoharis said that while regular international passenger flights would be allowed to take off and land again at the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki starting from Monday, the ban on arrivals from Britain will remain in place until July 1.
“Our goal is for Greece to remain a safe country, looking forward to the tourism season,” said health minister Vassilis Kikilias.
Greece has announced a ‘bridge phase’ between June 15 and 30, during which only the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki will receive regular passenger flights.
Other regional and island airports will open on July 1.
Until June 30, tourists from Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will only be able to fly into Athens.
UK passenger flights will be allowed from July 1 onwards.
Any travellers who test positive will have to quarantine for 14 days at a hotel paid by the Greek state.
With fewer than 190 coronavirus deaths among 11 million residents, Greece is looking to market itself as a healthy holiday destination.
Tourism is a crucial part of the Greek economy, accounting for 20 percent of its gross domestic product and the lockdown hit the country hard.
Seasonal hotels are to reopen on June 15, two weeks after all-year hotels returned to business.
Staff will be subject to regular tests, as will guests.
Rooms have also been set aside to quarantine anyone testing positive for the virus, and each hotel has to have a contracted physician on call.
In 2019, Greece posted a record year with over 34 million visitors, but operators say a realistic goal for this season is for up to a third of that number.
(Source – ET Travel)