ATHENS – Greece's gamble to open its borders after lifting a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 hasn't paid off in revenue and some 295 foreign visitors have tested positive for the virus, spiking cases and raising worries about more measures.
As of July 21 there were 4,048 cases and 197 deaths, still among the lowest in the world after an early lockdown closed non-essential businesses and kept people mostly confined at home.
But needing cash to try to again kick start a slow recovery from a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis, the borders were opened in June to tourists from 29 countries with similarly safe records and to most others on July 15.
Still barred are Americans where President Donald Trump's denial of the virus' effect and refusal to push for lockdowns has led the disease to rampage and made the United States a pariah around the world.
The tourist infections were in the period from July 1-19, Greece's Deputy Minister for Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias, said, adding that 53 cases were still active and that 76 percent of the imported cases were from Balkan countries, mainly tourists from Serbia.
Despite the rise in Coronavirus cases, Hardalias ruled out the possibility of a second nationwide lockdown, while adding that the introduction of local lockdowns was also unlikely despite worries the virus will be spread by tourists, said Kathimerini.
“Targeted measures are doing the job,” he said, as he urged people to show discipline and follow the official guidelines to stem the spread of COVID-19, which are being widely defied and ignored and not working yet.
Particularly worrisome is the admittance as of July 15 of tourists from the United Kingdom which is also one of the hardest-hit regions in the world although the initial numbers of Britons was smaller than expected.