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Greece to reopen early; ditches quarantine for tourists who are vaccinated or test negative

Greece has announced that it is taking ‘baby steps’ to reopen.

Reopening to 32 countries

Greece has announced that it will take a first step towards reopening its tourism industry by dropping quarantine rules for travellers from more than 30 countries if they have been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19.

A Greek official on Wednesday (14th April 2021) said that the country will reopen to fully vaccinated travellers coming from across the European Union and five other countries will no longer need to self-isolate. Additionally, travellers from these 32 countries who have received a negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours prior to arrival will be permitted to enter.

A senior tourism minister told Reuters:

We will gradually lift the restrictions at the beginning of next week ahead of the opening on May 14.

The new regime is expected to come into effect on 19th April 2021, in the run-up to the country formally reopening its tourism sector from 14th May.

The minister added:

They are baby steps before the country opens as planned for tourists on 14 May. Nine airports will open at the same time that the restriction is lifted.

The country will reopen to tourists coming from the European Union and five other countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Serbia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Travellers from the above mentioned countries should arrive at one of the following airports: Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini or Corfu. In addition to this, Greece will allow travelers to enter through two land borders.

The minister further adds:

We’re not expecting tourists to start arriving en masse, but the system needs to be tested. It can’t be switched on, in one go, overnight.

Related: The Seychelles to welcome tourists from 25th March

Strict rules

Tourists will be subject to Greece’s ongoing lockdown restrictions. Just a few days ago, Greece confirmed that it would reopen its borders to visitors on 14th.

That plan to reopen to all travelers includes a ‘five lines of defense’ strategy. Those lines include:

  • All visitors must be fully vaccinated or present a negative COVID-19 test result
  • A checking system at Greece’s airports and borders, where passengers can be selected randomly to take a rapid test
  • Any visitor who tests positive for coronavirus will be isolated in a ‘quarantine hotel’
  • All tourism industry workers must be vaccinated (they will move up the priority list once the most vulnerable Greek citizens get the vaccine)
  • Strict adherence to safety protocols such as wearing masks and social distancing.

Important for Greece’s economy

More than 20% of the country’s GDP is derived from tourism, on which one in five jobs depend.

Greece is one of such countries which depends on tourism majorly for its income and bringing tourism back is essential for Greece’s economic bottom line. Many cities and towns in this country rely on the money spent by visitors, and the effects of the year-long pandemic have been incredibly harmful to many local businesses.

Related: Iceland opens its borders to all vaccinated visitors

Airlines are resuming flights to this southeastern European nation

The reopening of borders in May could lead to additional flights into Greece. Already, Emirates has announced resumption of its fifth-freedom service from Athens to New York while Qatar Airways has announced the resumption of its seasonal service to Mykonos. airBaltic has announced flights to Heraklion in Crete and Santorini from its base in Riga while British Airways, anticipating the resumption of Greek tourism, is considering re-routing some of the larger planes in its fleet – like Boeing 787s Dreamliner and Boeing B777s – that are sitting idle at Heathrow Airport to use them on shorter flights to the Mediterranean.

What do you think of Greece’s reopening plan? Let me know in the comments section below.

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