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Economy

Tourism-Needy Greece Eager to See EU’s COVID-19 Lockdown Lift Plan

Desperately needing tourism in the wake of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Greece is awaiting the anticipated May 13 release of a plan by the European Union to allow travel within the 27-member bloc.

Greece had already requested a lifting of restrictions “where possible” so that travel could resume by June 15, when hotels in the country are set to reopen and hopes are that tourists will come in bigger numbers in July.

The New Democracy government has assured visitors that hotels and other areas will be safe and that businesses will have to meet strict hygiene protocols and meet social distancing requirements to keep people apart.

Greece also recommended that travelers be tested in their countries at least 72 hours before departure and be able to prove they don't have the virus before they get on plans although it wasn't said how those driving into the country would be checked.

Greek officials said tests could be lifted for travelers from member-states which have “demonstrated clear and persistent evidence” that the pandemic is under control, such as Greece, which held down the numbers of cases and deaths with an early lockdown.

Greece said tourism needs to restart but in a way that avoids any “nationality bias” in travel protocols, said Kathimerini.

Uniform travel requirements should also include air travelers and staff to wear masks and Greece said all means of transport by road, air, train or sea must restart at the same time and with proportionate protocols. 

The European Commission is reportedly expected to propose the complete lifting of restrictions between member-states where the pandemic has been brought under control, which would aid Greece especially.

According to a draft cited by Politico, restrictions and border controls may be phased out across Europe if epidemiological data across the bloc continue to be positive and as long as there's no resurgence of the virus.

Travel within the European Union may be permitted subject to health checks of individuals wishing to travel, and the lifting of restrictions may first be permitted “for certain forms of transport and for certain types of tourist activity,” the report said.

Part of the Commission’s plan for a controlled launch of the tourist season also entails an interactive map that will record epidemiological data regarding tourist destinations, health infrastructure and security measures taken in restaurants and hotels.

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