ATHENS – After Scotland said travelers returning from Greece face a 14-day quarantine, Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis is trying to persuade tourists from the United Kingdom that Greece is still a safe destination despite rising COVID-19 cases.
He told the BBC that the New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was lauded for bringing an early lockdown March 23 that was gradually lifted beginning May 4 and held down cases and deaths, is doing whatever it can to contain the resurgence.
“We’re taking specific targeted measures where we see specific concentrations of cases – measures that have been successful and have been working in the past few days,” Theocharis said.
Cases more than doubled in August over people defying requirements to wear masks and keep a safe social distance of at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart from each other and tourists allowed to enter beginning in July bringing infections with them.
That was despite requirements they come with tests showing they didn't have the Coronavirus and facing random testing in Greece but many UK tourists have also complained about a process requiring them to get mobile phone codes.
Theocharis said cases in Greece remain far below the European Union average relatively as well as the UK threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 residents per week, above which British authorities impose restrictions, the UK being hard hit as well.
He also said that more health protocols were being introduced to target some areas that have become hotspots although the notorious island of Mykonos where wild partying and defiance of the measures brought a spike wasn't locked down as were several other islands.
Greece now ranks fifth in Europe in terms of the number of COVID-19 tests, he said, adding that contacts of those found infected are tracked and traced although it wasn't said how, especially when it's contracted at an anonymous party in a private villa.