ATHENS – Following the lead of Cyprus and desperate for tourists with the COVID-19 pandemic winding down, Greece's ruling New Democracy said it will pick up some of the costs if visitors test positive for the Coronavirus.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas told journalists, “"We have done it in the past and we will continue to do so. We expect far fewer cases – or hopefully none – as the epidemiological cycles in the European countries from where we expect tourist flows are coordinating downwards."
“Our aim is to ensure the maximum safety for residents and visitors.” It was not clear whether the Greek state would also pay for food or medicines, however, said Kathimerini in a report, with Cyprus paying all costs for those who get COVID-19.
But health measures on those from Italy will require tests for the virus, infuriating a regional government there, while those from the UK will be held overnight in a hotel designed for testing and put in quarantine for 7-14 days if they are positive.
Greece will open to international flights on June 15, allowing visitors from an initial list of 29 countries to enter the country without being tested or quarantined but then will open to all, including from the hardest-hit countries such as the United Kingdom where the virus is still raging.
Greece imposed a lockdown on March 23 before a single death and on May 4 began a week-by-week staggered reopening of businesses and public gathering spots, the quick response holding down the number of deaths to 179 as of June 1.
International flights with screening procedures will return to Athens and Greece’s second-largest city of Thessaloniki starting on June 15, and will be expanded to the rest of the country on July 1, the start of what's left of a summer tourism season.
Screening for arriving passengers will be based on an assessment by a European Union flight safety authority, with arrivals from low-infection countries being subjected only to random testing.
Year-round hotels were also allowed to reopen but despite being desperate for business many stayed closed until closer to the start of the tourism season, citing low bookings with international air traffic not in full force and people fearful of traveling.