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Greece Extends COVID-19 Barrier, Scotland Will Quarantine Greek Tourists

September 2, 2020

Greece's calculated gamble to allow tourists in a bid to prop up an economy brought down by COVID-19 hasn't seen the arrival expected, but it has brought in more cases, leading to further travel restrictions for visitors.

At the same time, a sharp rise in cases in Greece after defiance of health measures and tourists coming in with infections led Scotland to say visitors from Greece would face a 14-day quarantine there, effectively shutting them out.

It's been a sharp turnaround for the New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who was lauded for bringing an early lockdown March 23.

That closed non-essential businesses up to 10 weeks and held down the number of cases and deaths but they more than doubled in August and the deadly trend has continued into September, with 207 cases on the first day and five deaths.

Twenty of those came from travelers tested at entry points into the country,  infectious diseases professor Sotiris Tsiodras announced at a live briefing as the government has tried to balance saving lives against saving the economy.

The total hit 10,524 cases, with 2,112 are linked to travel abroad and 4,710 to an already registered case, with the death count at 271, said Kathimerini.

A series of new travel restrictions were issued by Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority to contain the spread of the coronavirus through arrivals coming from countries experiencing major outbreaks, with a ban continued on the United States and Russia.

The new guidelines extend a ban on flights between Greece and Turkey until Sept. 15 and temporarily suspend all flights to and from Catalonia in Spain.

Travelers flying from Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Malta, North Macedonia, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates will be allowed to enter Greece only by showing a negative COVID-19 test, taken up to 72 hours before arrival.

A ban was also extended on non-European citizens, apart from those coming from Australia, Canada, Georgia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and the UAE, but negative tests are required.

Scotland said it would impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from Greece starting Sept. 2 because COVID-19 cases were too high although the Greek government has issued more health protocols to stem the spread.

There has been a “significant rise” in cases of coronavirus being brought into Scotland, a devolved region of the United Kingdom, from people who have been to Greece, the Scottish government said, the Reuters news agency reported.

“We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the situation in many countries can change suddenly. Therefore, people should think very hard before committing to non-essential travel abroad,” Justice Minister Humza Yousaf said.

The Welsh government has said vacationers returning there from the Greek island of Zante will be requested to self-quarantine for 14 days and be offered COVID-19 tests after seven cases were found on a flight back.

Britain’s national government in London was expected to decide later this week whether to quarantine travelers returning from Greece, a decision that would apply to England, the report added.

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