Passengers of the first Lufthansa flight to Greece, following a nationwide lockdown against the spread of the coronavirus disease, queue keeping social distance as they wait to be tested on Covid-19, upon their arrival at Athens International Airport, on Monday.
The government has decided to open Greek borders for tourists from the European Union, the Schengen area and Israel by July 1 at the latest, but possibly even earlier, from mid-June, Kathimerini understands.
The relevant announcements are expected on Wednesday or Thursday, along with the unveiling of the government’s plan to support the tourist industry.
According to the same sources, the country’s health authorities have already approved the government’s plan to let in tourists and only the date remains to be finalized. This will depend on the country’s epidemiological data, which are very encouraging at the moment.
The opening of the borders may also entail that seasonal hotels could start business from June 15 – year-round hotels will open from June 1. The relevant decisions will be made by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
International flights from some countries will have already started in the last week of May.
According to the government’s decision, incoming travelers will not be quarantined or required to take a test for the coronavirus.
Greece had requested these tests before the European Commission drafted a series of proposals last week regarding the free movement in the bloc. However, the request was not accepted by the EU nor by the European Center for Disease Prevention and the European Aviation Safety Agency, which decided that tests should not be a prerequisite for travel given the existing scientific data.
Individual countries will have the right to demand additional conditions, but the EU has demanded that the principle of nondiscrimination be respected.
As for air travel, it will be subject to specific protocols that include the observance of physical distancing at airports. Moreover, masks will be mandatory at airports and on board airplanes, while the completion of a special health questionnaire before the trip will be required.
As for the package for the tourism sector, Mitsotakis will also announce a series of support measures for transport, hotels and all the sectors involved in the sectors of hospitality and travel.
According to sources, these measures will include a reduction in VAT on tourist packages, transport and other affected areas of the tourist industry, as well as subsidizing labor.