NEWS

Tourist season, with Green Pass, nears

Open beaches a litmus test

tourist-season-with-green-pass-nears

Greece is in the final stages of its preparations to officially open the tourist season on Saturday, May 15.

Beaches run by private concessions opened on Saturday, a week earlier than originally planned, so the government can gauge the effect of the opening on crowds.

The government wants to integrate the so-called Green Pass possessed by visitors into the Passenger Locator Form (PFL) that prospective visitors fill 48 hours before arrival.

When filling the form, in addition to the airport they are departing from, their destination and duration of their stay, visitors will add the data from their Green Pass. That is, whether they have been vaccinated, fallen ill of the coronavirus at least 20 days before arrival and whether they have tested negatively in a PCR or antigen test. The Green Pass will go into effect from June 1 and Greek authorities want to streamline the pass inspection process and avoid congestion at airports or border crossings.

Steps will also be taken to ensure the validity of green passes.

Visitors from the following countries take part in the Green Pass program: France, Malta, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Denmark, Hungary, Luxembourg, Finland, Belgium, Ireland, Slovakia, Lichtenstein and Norway. Apart from these countries, Greece will also accept visitors from China and Russia and those vaccinated with the Chinese and Russian vaccines, in addition to the four vaccines used in the country and the western world (AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer).

Successfully managing the Green Pass is just one of the government’s goals as the country reopens its doors to tourism. As officials told Kathimerini, it is important that any activity that opens is not shut down again; that new coronavirus cases be detected as soon as possible; that crowding is avoided; that vaccinations accelerate still further and that the most vulnerable groups achieve herd immunity; and, through vaccinations, ensure that the islands, where the bulk of the tourists are headed and where there is a dearth of hospitals and primary care, become safe places.

The government has set as its goal 4.5 million fully vaccinated individuals by the end of June, before the peak of the tourist season. The arrival of 1.2 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be decisive in speeding up the vaccination program, as they require only one jab.

Officials also are alert to the possibility that some countries of origin may impose several days of quarantine to residents returning from their holidays in Greece. This would be a huge blow to tourism, which accounts for around one-fifth of the country’s economy.