Greece pushes ahead with plan to open up to foreign tourists

Greece pushes ahead with plan to open up to foreign tourists

Greece will push ahead with a plan to open the country to foreign tourists on May 15, even as infection numbers and hospitalisations remain persistently high.

“The vaccines, the self-tests, and the better weather make us confident that this unprecedented adventure is ending,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday in a special television address.

Opening up tourism, which accounts for 25 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product, is regarded as a critical step in reviving the country’s hard-hit economy.

The government also said residents aged 30 to 39 will be eligible for vaccination next week. The unexpected decision was spurred along by a surplus of AstraZeneca jabs left unused because of vaccine hesitancy by older citizens.

Mitsotakis stressed the importance of vaccinations and laid out a road map for the following weeks. Residents will not be allowed to travel within the country over the Orthodox Easter break next week because the largest outbreaks are occurring in large cities. “We cannot just think of our Easter holidays and not consider the health of people living in islands and villages,” he said.

After being closed for almost five months, restaurants will be allowed to reopen their terraces on May 3, while those working in the sector will have to take mandatory self-tests. Schools will reopen the following week, with students, teachers, and all staff also expected to conduct self-tests.