ATHENS — Desperate for tourists to keep going an economy brought to its knees by the COVID-19 lockdown, Greece still won’t allow direct flights from the Britain or Sweden, two countries hard-hit by the pandemic by a late lockdown and no lockdown.
While Greece on July 1 will open regional airports and seasonal hotels and welcome tourists from many countries, Americans so far are still prohibited because of President Donald Trump’s insistence he has beaten the pandemic while the cases are rising there.
Direct flights from Britain and Sweden to Greece will not be allowed until July 15, Greek authorities said, adding they would use European Union guidelines to determine which countries were considered at high risk of spreading the novel coronavirus, said Reuters.
British vacationers are a major market for Greece, especially on the island of Zakynthos where young hooligans often run wild, and with others from the United Kingdom a key sector across the country.
Greece’s tourism sector, which in 2019 continued a run of record years with 34 million people spending some 19 billion euros ($21.34 billion) but there are fears the numbers could plunge 70 percent or more this year with the summer almost written off.
Greece reopened its main airports in Athens and Thessaloniki to more international flights on June 15, but limited arrivals to 29 countries with records as similarly safe as Greece in holding down the number of cases and deaths.
and will reopen all others on July 1.
“The whole process of opening up is dynamic, and there will be a continuous review of the situation,” said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who chaired a meeting with health, civil protection and tourism officials, the news agency said.
Greece was expected to be among countries considered low-risk for which Britain said it will stop a compulsory 14-day quarantine and introduce a three-tier grading system based on their COVID-19 rates but Mitsotakis said while Greece wants tourists it’s safety first.
Earlier this month, Sweden said it would lift its advice against non-essential travel to Greece and nine other European countries from June 30.
Authorities said from July 1, all persons traveling to Greece would be obliged to fill in a passenger locator form (PLF) https://travel.gov.gr at least 48 hours before entering the country.