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Society

In COVID-19 Tourism Test, Greece Opens to Select Travelers

ATHENS – Almost a month before Greece will open to vaccinated tourists and those showing they’re not infected with COVID-19, a trial will see those invited from a few countries to see how it works.

The lucky ones include those from the United States shut out last year, including Greek-Americans who can now come back if they have vaccination certificates or negative Coronavirus test results.

Others for now include Serbia, the United Arab Emirates and also the UnitedK Kingdom – which hasn’t given its residents permission yet to travel outside the country, the Greek experiment starting April 19.

Greece plans to open more broadly on May 14 in a bid to help an economy battered by the more than year-long pandemic and lockdowns that closed non-essential businesses more than half that time.

“It’s a pilot opening,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters, a Medical Express article said. “It involves visitors coming either with vaccine certificates or following PCR tests.”

Greece has been closed to American citizens since March 2020 although tourists were allowed from nearly 30 countries last year, those which had relatively better records in dealing with the health crisis.

In March, Greece also lifted a one-week quarantine rule for Israeli travelers who have either been vaccinated for COVID-19 or tested negative, breaking away from European Union protocols.

Travelers from the countries in the trial can avoid a mandatory quarantine under two conditions, said Reuters: the vaccine proof or negative test that had to be done 72 hours before arriving in the country.

“Under the plan, airports will reopen in Kos, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Corfu, Athens, Thessaloniki, and Chania and Heraklion on Crete,” a senior tourism ministry official not named told the British newspaper The Guardian. “We’re not expecting tourists to start arriving en masse, but the system needs to be tested. It can’t be switched on, in one go, overnight,” the source said.

Travelers to Greece will need to follow the same restrictions as Greek residents during an essentially-suspended lockdown that still limits travel between regions and with restaurants, bars and taverns are still closed.

That means the visitors will have to rely on take-out or delivery instead of sitting down at restaurants, especially on islands and along the seashore which is a major draw.

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