ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ idea about tourists needing to carry a certificate showing they were vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel in the European Union won’t apply to Greece.
Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis told SKAI TV that, “Under no circumstance will it become a condition for someone to travel to our country,” a practice, which if followed by other countries nullify the scheme.
Tourism is Greece’s biggest revenue engine, bringing in as much as 18-20 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 165.03 billion euros ($200.3 billion) but it fell off the map in 2020 during the pandemic.
Theoharis didn’t explain the contradiction of wanting other a vaccine certificate that wouldn’t apply in Greece after the New Democracy government said getting a shot wouldn’t be mandatory – but it would for tourists coming in.
Trying to spin the message, he said Mitsotakis’ proposal was meant to “rock the boat” for the EU to have coordination over vaccines but still didn’t explain why people without a certificate could come to Greece but not elsewhere.
He also said the vaccination certificate and the rapid antigen tests are fast, cheap and effective tools for the reopening of tourism but, if so, why they wouldn’t then be required, especially if the pandemic is still on by summer.
The initial idea, he continued, is to test those who have not been vaccinated upon entry to Greece and let those with the certificate pass freely, to avoid “wasting resources,” without clarifying what that meant.
But he said the final decision won’t be his and that it depends on the advice of a special panel of doctors and scientists that Mitsotakis usually relies on before making decisions vis-a-vis health protocols and the economy.
Mitsotakis asked European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to urge the introduction of a coronavirus vaccination certificate that would ease travel between member-states in the bloc, said Politico.
“It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member-states,”he said, but apparently just not Greece yet.