Dhaka: The government of Greece announced that the country will reopen for international tourists from June 15 in effort to soften the financial blow led by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, there will be blanket testing imposed for people coming from certain countries including the UK.
Greece released a list of 29 countries it considered safe on May 29, saying tourists coming from these places would be randomly tested on arrival.
Clarifying how tourism would work from mid-June a day later, Greek officials said travellers would still be allowed from other countries – but they would all be tested and have to self-quarantine for seven days if the test comes back negative.
“If the test is positive, the passenger is quarantined under supervision for 14 days,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Germany, Denmark, New Zealand, South Korea, China are on the list of 29 countries Greece will accept tourists from without blanket testing.
Others include Australia, Bulgaria, Israel, Norway, Finland, Japan and the Czech Republic.
However, some of the world’s worst-affected countries – including the UK, France, Italy and Spain – are not included on the list, which was drawn up based on a document from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
Greece imposed a lockdown early in its coronavirus outbreak, a move which has been credited with keeping the number of infections down.
A total of 2,997 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the country as of yet. This is a relatively low number compared with other countries of the European Union.
From June 15, travellers from 29 countries – including Albania, Austria, North Macedonia, Switzerland, Estonia, Croatia and Cyprus – will be able to enter Greece on direct flights to Athens and to the northern city of Thessaloniki and will be randomly tested on arrival.
It will be expanded on July 1 to include more countries, the tourism ministry said.
Tourism and related industries make up around 20 per cent of the Greek economy, and the government has been anxious to ensure the tourist season is not lost this year.
Greece’s nationwide lockdown – which was put in place in March – brought its business and tourism sector to a virtual standstill as the country tackled the spread of coronavirus.
The country restarted regular ferry services from the mainland to its islands on June 1 and cafes and restaurants also reopened for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season.
The easing of lockdown measures started in early May, with hair salons, sports shops and bookstores allowed to open as long as they follow strict hygiene and social distancing measures.