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Greece Offers Quarantine Waive for British Tourists, Americans Out of Luck

ATHENS – Desperate for tourists to help revive an economy shattered by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Greece will waive a 14-day quarantine period for visitors from the United Kingdom, where the disease is still raging and death rates soared.

It wasn’t explained why tourists from one of the countries hardest hit by the virus would be given an exemption as Greece will otherwise require visitors to be put into a compulsory 14-day quarantine, even if they are coming for fewer days, the contradiction not cleared up.

In an interview with the BBC, Tourism minister Harry Theoharis said the Greek government would set aside the requirement if the same was done for Greeks traveling to the UK but no word on why Americans wouldn’t also have the same privilege.

Greece’s New Democracy said it wanted to focus on so-called safe corridors of tourists between countries less affected by the virus but is willing to open the door to British and UK visitors despite the risk of the virus resurging as it is starting to wane.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this week that a 14-day quarantine would be introduced for travelers coming into the UK from June but said there were discussions about whether to exempt some countries to help economies.

Other media reports said that Australia, Israel and New Zealand banded with some European Union nations such as Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Greece to restore their tourism industries between countries with fewer cases.

Theoharis acknowledged that Greece’s tourism sector is already taking a beating after estimates it could fall as much as 70 percent, depriving the country of critical revenues from its biggest money-raiser which brings in up to 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 183.05 billion euros ($200.3 billion.)

Ministers of some countries are talking about using so-called  “air bridges” – usually used to refer to military flights over enemy territory – allowing tourists to travel between countries without the need for quarantine once the outbreak is under control although full return of international air traffic is some time off.

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