Greece will welcome back tourists without restrictions from next week

Greece will welcome back tourists without travel restrictions from next week despite the UK still refusing to allow holidaymakers to go abroad until at least May 17

  • Greece will lift restrictions for tourists from the UK, EU and four other countries
  • Travellers will have to be vaccinated or test negative to avoid the quarantine 
  • But, the UK is not expected to lift restrictions on international travel until May 17 

Greece plans to lift quarantine restrictions from next week for travellers from the UK, European Union and four other countries who have been vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19, a senior government official said on Wednesday. 

Last month, the country lifted a one-week quarantine rule for Israeli travellers who have been inoculated and test negative.

However, Brits will not be able to take advantage of the easing until at least May 17, when restrictions on international travel are set to be lifted according to the government roadmap. 

Greece plans to lift quarantine restrictions from next week for travellers from the European Union and five other countries who have been vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19

Greece, which emerged from a decade-long financial crisis before the pandemic last year, has said it will open its tourism sector, a key growth driver for its economy, from the middle of May. 

‘We will gradually lift the restrictions at the beginning of next week ahead of the opening on May 14,’ a senior tourism ministry official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The official said citizens from the European Union, the United States, Britain, Serbia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will be allowed to travel to Greece via the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, and two border crossings.

Passengers from those countries will not be quarantined, as long as they prove that they have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or show a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours prior to their arrival. 

Tourists will still be subject to domestic lockdown restrictions under this new easing, the official added. 

Brits will not be able to take advantage of the easing until at least May 17, when restrictions on international travel are set to be lifted according to the government roadmap

Under current rules, all foreigners arriving in Greece should test negative and quarantine for seven days. 

For passengers from Britain and the United Arab Emirates, a second mandatory test is also required upon their arrival.

The announcement comes as Brussels has said it wants vaccine passports, or Digital Green Certificates, to be rolled out across the EU by June 21.

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders told MEPs on Tuesday vaccine passport trials should be launched in all countries in the bloc between now and early June.

He said: ‘The commission is working very hard to ensure large vaccination coverage of the European population to prevent discrimination of individuals who are not yet vaccinated,

‘The proposal regulates not only the insurance verification and acceptance of an interoperable vaccination certificate but also a test certificate and certificate for a person who has recovered from COVID-19.’

The European Commission in Brussels has said it wants vaccine passports, or Digital Green Certificates, to be rolled out across the EU by June 21

The European Commission had wanted the vaccine passport scheme fully operational by late May to help states that rely on tourism, such as Greece and Spain, bounce back from the pandemic. 

It appears that target has now been scrapped in favour of the later date. 

Vaccine passport proposals have been widely criticised for their potential to discriminate against people who cannot, or do not want to, be inoculated. 

The UK is set to roll out pilot schemes later this month.  

Greece has fared better than other EU countries in containing the first wave of the pandemic but a resurgence in COVID-19 infections has forced the country to impose lockdown restrictions since November.

Greece has reported a total of 301,103 cases and 9,054 deaths so far.

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