ATHENS — Greece’s hopes for a July 1 full reopening of tourism in the wake of the lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown faces derailment if the European Union bars tourists from the hard-hit United States, and an impasse over whether countries in the bloc will let residents travel.
There’s a growing risk that EU countries won’t agree on the details regarding the opening of their borders to travelers from third countries by then, said Kathimerini, with bloc officials again dragging their heels as often happens.
Several member-states are reportedly leaning toward a new extension of the travel ban on arrivals from third countries, with a date proposed for July 15 but the paper didn’t reveal which they were but said Greece has already rejected that idea.
So far, the plan is for EU members to open the borders to countries that have epidemiological data corresponding to the EU average –16 new cases per 100,000 population in the previous two weeks – or slightly higher (up to 20 per 100,000) if there is a downward trend.
The worry comes as there’s growing interest by tourists in Greece, which had one of the world’s best records in dealing with COVID-19, holding down the number of cases and deaths during the pandemic, but the possibility of later travel undercutting the summer.
Curiously the top two favored destinations for vacationers according to a survey conducted by Horwath HTL, an international tourism consultancy, are Spain and Italy, the countries with the most cases and deaths with no explanation why people who prefer to go there instead of Greece.
As Greece prepares to open to 27 airports and welcome tourists for a truncated summer season on July 1, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection launched an information campaign urging tourists to follow health protocols designed to keep them safe.
The Enjoy Your Stay and Stay Safe campaign provides information and instruction on how to follow the measures although those are already being widely ignored or defied by Greeks shunning masks and not keeping any social distancing.