Britons keen to visit Greece could see some hope on the horizon after the country officially resumed tourism yesterday. As of Monday, Greek citizens have been allowed to travel freely throughout the country, and it’s islands reopened their doors, with ferries beginning to arrive.
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Though Greece’s ministers are asking Britons, and other countries such as the US and Russia, to stay away due to high coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rates, experts say the wait may not be too long.
In fact, according to BBC Foreign Correspondent Quentin Sommerville, experts have suggested Britons could be enjoying the Greek sun as early as July.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning he said: “The Greek authorities say countries with higher infection rates, and that includes Britain and the US and Russia will have to wait a bit longer before they are welcome back, but probably not too much longer.
“Maybe the middle of July or the end of July.”
It is hoped that by welcoming back tourists, Greece will receive a much-needed boost to its economy after two months of lockdown.
Having suffered just 172 deaths as a result of the pandemic, the country has made the decision to emerge from lockdown.
In a bid to protect the residents of the Greek islands, coronavirus tests have been shipped out and are being trialled by locals ahead of the arrival of foreign travellers.
It is hoped these tests will be on offer to anyone who wants one.
Last week, the Greek government announced its plans to “white-list” certain countries in the early days of restarting tourism.
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International tourists are likely to be welcomed back as of July 1, though Britons won’t be amongst the initial holidaymakers.
Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis spoke to ITV News and explained that the government would be giving the green-light to countries based on “epidemiological criteria”.
He added they were unhappy with Britain’s current standing against the coronavirus pandemic.
So far Briton has reported 36,914 deaths as a result.
When questioned about the country’s whitelist Mr Theoharis said: “I think that the UK has a big difference in terms of the current medical status of the country with Greece, so I don’t think it’s likely it will be there.”
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He added that the UK will not be accepted until figures show that the number of cases in the country has “improved”.
However, in Greece, it is a more positive tale for summer holidays, as restaurants and bars reopen their doors.
“The tourism period begins on 15 June, when seasonal hotels can reopen,” Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address.
He added: “Let us make this summer the epilogue of the (Covid-19) crisis.”
Mr Sommerville was on the Greek island of Milos when the first boat of tourists arrived from mainland Greece.
“We were here yesterday when Milos and all the islands in Greece reopened for business,” he said.
“It wasn’t hugely busy, it was mainly Greek tourists arriving here.
“The ferries, when they arrived at this pot here, they had about 50 percent capacity to ensure social distancing but the hope is that Greece and tourism is back in business.”
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