Greece reopens regional airports, after calculating COVID-19 risks
RHODES (GREECE) – Greece reopened its regional airports to international flights on Wednesday, hoping to tread on a path of recovery in tourism after a three-month-long lockdown.
The Mediterranean nation, rebounding from a decade-long debt crisis, has been relaxing travel restrictions to set off with its tourism sector. The sector accounts for a fifth of its economic output and employs 700,000.
“We decided in this weird time to come because we feel that it’s a safe country,” said Suzana Vosatkova from the Czech Republic, as she arrived at the airport in Rhodes.
Dozens of flights were expected on Wednesday at Greece’s 18 regional airports, which connects to some of the country’s popular resorts. All travellers must fill in a passenger locator form (PLF) at least 48 hours before making their entry to the country. Random tests will be conducted upon arrival.
Though Greece’s two main airports were opened last month, it is only after July 1 that more flights are allowed, from non EU countries.
The European Union gave approval on Tuesday for leisure or business travel from 14 countries outside its borders. From its initial “safe list”, Russia and the United States were excluded, both significant tourism markets for Greece.
The country has managed to control coronavirus infections to 3,409 since its first case was reported back in February. However its economy is likely to shrink by at least 8% this year.
The conservative government faces the challenge of opening Greece to foreign visitors and preventing any chances of a new outbreak of the virus. The country reported 20 new cases on Tuesday, nine of them arriving by air, government officials said.
“It’s a calculated risk. We do not rush things, we take it one step at a time,” Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis told Reuters.
Greece is following EU guidelines as to who is allowed into the country. Direct flights from Britain, Sweden and Turkey will not be allowed until July 15.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.