Greece’s deputy minister for Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias, sought to address concerns over the government’s plans to reopen tourism to visitors from abroad as of July 1, without subjecting them to coronavirus tests and a mandatory quarantine period.
Speaking at the government’s regular public briefing on the course of the epidemic in Greece on Thursday evening, Hardalias assured that the opening of the economy and its vital tourism sector is being carried out according to a detailed plan that will be reviewed on a regular basis and revised as needed.
“We understand citizens’ concerns about tourism but there must be trust,” he said. “We still have 40 days ahead of us to get ready and to reliably guarantee that all safety standards are met.”
Hardalias said that travelers coming from abroad will continue to be quarantined for 14 days until May 21 but added that the decision to stop this measure from that date is also based on the fact that from the 2,236 passengers who traveled to Greece between May 13 and 20, only one tested positive for coronavirus.
According to the government plan unveiled on Wednesday, international flights will resume on June 15 but only from countries that have successfully contained their infections numbers and only to Athens. That will be extended to all the country’s airports by July 1 if the first phase of the reopening goes well.
Greece has been coming out of an almost total lockdown since the start of the month, gradually opening different sectors of economic activity and travel.
Hardalias said that the next easing measure will concern sea travel, which began sparingly this week and will be extended next week to all the Greek islands.
Next Monday will also see the relaunch of bars, cafes and restaurants, which will have to implement strict social distancing and hygiene measures to ensure staff and customer safety.
Hardalias also confirmed that elementary schools, kindergartens and creches would be allowed to reopen on June 1, following encouraging signs from the opening of the country’s middle and high schools.