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Society

Greece Set to Allow Inter-Regional Travel with Vaccines, Self-Tests

ATHENS — With many Greeks already returning to near-normal life during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, they will likely be allowed to travel between regions on May 15 if they are vaccinated or have a negative self-test proof.

Government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said it hasn't yet been decided, however whether proof of one or two doses required of the vaccines apart from the single-shot Johnson & Johnson would be sufficient, said Kathimerini.

With the warmer spring weather setting in, many people are also eager to go to their villages or other parts of the country to beaches and mountain areas or for domestic vacations instead of traveling internationally.

The New Democracy government is trying to balance saving lives against boosting an economy still staggering under previously lenient lockdowns that nevertheless kept non-essential businesses closed more than half a year.

May is seen as a critical month as a test as to whether easing the lockdown won't spread the virus again and bring another lockdown which could bring the end of many businesses unable to sustain any more losses.

Owners of restaurants, which reopened for outdoor dining only on May 3, also want to be able to operate until midnight instead of 11 p.m. as now allowed, especially with summer coming and customers and tourists wanting longer hours.

The system requiring people to get text message permission on their cell phones to be out is set to end on May 15 as well although so many people are now crowding streets that is essentially moot already.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told The Financial Times he believes the health crisis will abate further in May although some health experts believe it could last another year in some form.

“I do expect the situation to improve dramatically over the next months,” he said, stressing that the infection rate and hospital admissions are declining. He also cited the acceleration of vaccinations and self-tests as a critical tool against the pandemic.

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