At present, the government is preoccupied with health-related indicators, closely watching the spread of the coronavirus and hoping there won’t be any major resurgence in cases over the next two months. But, after that, priorities will change.
After April, the government would like to see the economy open up, especially tourism, which normally accounts for 20% of the country’s GDP and whose performance, in Greece as well as globally, was disastrous in 2020. There are also worrying signs about this year, since people are far less willing to commit to holidays. In that respect, the government is considering, once the inoculation of the over-60s – especially vulnerable to the disease – is completed, to give priority not to younger people but, specifically, to professionals of different categories.
In Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ TV interview with Kathimerini’s Executive Editor Alexis Papachelas, he stated that, “right now, our priorities are exclusively public health-related. We do whatever the [health experts] committee tells us to do. But when we will have solved the issue of the vulnerable, then other factors might weigh in – more political or economic ones.”
Kathimerini understands that those who come into close contact with many people while working will be given priority: employees in the tourism sector, restaurants and cafés, deliveries, public transport, teachers and judges.
But, given the fact that this new policy will begin to be implemented in June, it is certain that tourism and catering of all kinds, the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, will be given priority.
Specifically for tourism, officials are hopeful that, as vaccinations proceed, people’s reluctance to travel will decrease correspondingly. The government is investing in the greater availability of rapid tests to encourage travel, as well as the “vaccination certificate” proposed by Mitsotakis but not universally endorsed in the EU. If the EU does not endorse the proposal, Greece will seek bilateral agreements with countries where vaccinations have advanced the furthest, such as the UK, the US, Israel and Russia.
Right now, the priority is to adhere to the stricter lockdown rules. When the epidemiological data allow it, the government is considering opening retail stores and schools simultaneously.