Greece has announced plans to lift a seven-day compulsory quarantine for visitors from the European Union and five other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. Athens officials are desperate to get tourism going again as it accounts for almost one-fifth of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. Some experts think the reopening is hasty.
In news from Greek Reporter, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and other cruise operators have announced their first Greece cruises after the pandemic-ravaged past year, beginning in July of 2021. Norwegian says it will offer 7-day trips around the Greek Isles on “Norwegian Jade” from out of Piraeus), Greece beginning July 25, 2021. Carnival Group and Celebrity Cruises/Royal Caribbean also made similar announcements.
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis wrapped up a four-day official visit to Russia on Friday. The minister met with Russian state officials, travel companies, and other key figures connected with the planned May 14th reopening of Greece for tourists. Theoharis also told reporters Greece will recognize the Sputnik V vaccine for Russians traveling on vacation.
With less than a month to go before Greece flings open her doors to tourists, the country’s vaccine regime is sluggish, at best. So far, only about 7.5% of the population has received both doses of the vaccines. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has criticized the EU for its COVID-19 rollout. He said recently that Greece would double its inoculation rate and ensure that residents over 60 would be vaccinated by the end of May. The country’s health system is currently struggling to cope with new cases.
Officials have been saying the May 14 reopening to tourists was made possible because of the “rapid rollout of the vaccine”, but the program has hit many snags since the first announcements were made. Harry Theoharis and other officials called the vaccine program a “wall of imunity” that would protect all concerned. However, with thousands of “at risk” older residents still unvaccinated, the government has announced accelerated plans to vaccinate everyone on smaller islands. Now, residents on some 85 smaller islands will get inoculated before the older groups in cities where the coronavirus is claiming 100 lives a day.