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Greece Will Speed Easing of COVID-19 Restrictions, Open More

ATHENS – With a general opening May 15 to tourists who can show proof of vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests, Greece's New Democracy government is also accelerating the end of an already lenient lockdown to ease measures.

Announcements are due later on May 12 to reveal what the conditions would be, said Kathimerini, after an advisory panel of doctors and scientists review the latest data to indicate what should be done. 

According to reports, measures are likely to include lifting the SMS system for public movement, extending the curfew for bars and restaurants perhaps to 1 a.m., and scrapping the so-called click-away and click-in-shop scheme in which shoppers could order online and pick up outside stores.

That has brought optimism for a better summer and return to near-normal life after some 15 months of the pandemic bringing terror to everyday life and people frequently locked in their homes.

In another indication it's getting better, the European Commission expects to finish work soon on a COVID-19 certificate that could allow citizens to travel more easily this summer in the 27-nation bloc, said Reuters.

The pass – the idea of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – would allow those vaccinated, recovered from the Coronavirus, or with negative test results to cross borders in the bloc, a big break for tourism.

“This is a priority for our citizens and therefore I believe we will deliver (on the certificate) before summer,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said, or else the high season will be lost to the EU's dawdling after the bloc failed to deliver enough vaccines on time.

But EU governments, the European Parliament and the Commission must agree on the design of the certificate. They must also decide whether faster, but less accurate, COVID-19 antigen tests can be included, the news agency said.

“For the certificate to work, it has to be on smartphones, it has to be interoperable, possible to check it. So it is quite the task to do it at the pan-European level,” Sefcovic said.

EU lawmakers, however, don't want the certificate to be a requirement for travel given how relatively few people have been fully vaccinated and said it shouldn't be considered vaccine passport so as not to stigmatize others.

The European Parliament says no one will be obliged to use the EU certificate and it must not be considered a vaccine passport.

As the vaccination campaign in the EU is gaining speed with 200 million jabs delivered and Covid-19 infections rates falling, Europe is starting to reopen cities and beaches, raising hopes for the summer holiday season, the report also added.

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