Vaccinations of employees of the Greek tourism sector will begin once all people belonging to vulnerable groups receive the jab against the coronavirus (Covid-19), according to Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis.
Speaking in parliament on Monday, Theoharis said the government’s goal is to create a “wall of immunity” and confidence in tourists when Greece officially opens its borders on May 14.
“Workers in the tourism sector will be vaccinated by priority after the vaccination program for vulnerable groups has been completed,” the minister said, adding that until the vaccination process begins, free self-tests will frequently be performed on all tourism workers.
Greece’s pilot tourism opening
“We are sending a clear message to everyone that the country is completely safe healthwise. On May 14 we are opening our borders. Tourism will open with the approval of the health committee. To set a specific date means that there is a complete plan,” he said brushing off opposition criticism with regard to the government’s pilot tourism opening on Monday.
The pilot tourism opening saw Greece lift its quarantine rule for travelers from 31 countries, which includes all EU member states, the US, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia and Israel. Travelers from those countries can enter Greece without having to quarantine for seven days only if they are fully vaccinated or have been tested negative for Covid-19.
According to Theoharis, this development is considered as the first necessary step towards a normalization of travel, with the implementation of safety measures. Greece’s official opening to international travel is still set for May 14.
During his speech in parliament, the Greek tourism minister stressed that opening for tourism is not a simple task and that having a plan is crucial.
“Tourism can not open with the flip of a switch… We need to first create a climate of trust, giving a clear picture of the country’s health safety,” he said, underlining that Greece is considered among the safest destinations.
Moreover, Theoharis reminded that the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently adopted Greece’s proposals for tourism restart, safe cross-border travel and support to workers and businesses.
“The signs are pleasing because we have an extensive comprehensive strategic action plan for opening up tourism. The plan’s implementation has begun and we will continue step by step to be completely ready by May 14,” he concluded.
The Greek tourism minister said that in the coming days he will travel to target markets to inform on Greece’s reopening plan and that the country, with health safety as the main priority, is ready to welcome all tourists this year.
Greece’s plan for opening to tourism
On May 14, Greece will officially open its borders to travelers that have been vaccinated against Covid-19, have recovered from the virus or have a negative PCR test result. Greek authorities at entrance points will conduct random Covid-19 tests through the EVA system, which indicates which travelers should be tested upon arrival. The country will have quarantine hotels available where cases can be isolated immediately, while all tourism enterprises will operate in accordance to updated health and safety protocols.