Many Greeks were shocked on Wednesday to hear the country will open its gates to foreign visitors in three weeks, tourists who will not need to undergo a Covid-19 test or be placed in a 14-day quarantine as the measures have been so far.
On Thursday, head of Greece’s Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias, tried to address the concerns concerns and assured that the government and the health authorities are working through with a detailed plan, regularly reviewed and revised as needed.
“We understand citizens’ concerns about tourism but there must be trust,” he said. “We still have 40 days ahead of us to get ready and to reliably guarantee that all safety standards are met.”
Hardalias stressed that travelers coming from abroad will continue to be quarantined for 14 days until May 21.
He added that the decision to lift this measure from that date is also based on the fact that from the 2,236 passengers who traveled to Greece between May 13 and 20, in 21 flights, only one was tested positive for coronavirus.
Is it a convincing argument?
Apparent not that much, as Greeks keep expressing their concerns on social media. Some wondered about the purpose of the 2-month lockdown.
Λίγο εως πολύ παράξενο να κλειδαμπαρώνεις 11.000.000 Έλληνες σε καραντίνα τόσο καιρό με τόσο αυστηρά μέτρα και από την άλλη να λες στον τουρίστα έλα δίχως τεστ και να τον υποδέχεσαι με ανοιχτές αγκάλες. Κάτι δεν (μου) κολλάει.#διαγγελμα#τουρισμος
— Panagiotis Balalas (@PBalalas) May 21, 2020
“What I understand is that the government will import the heard immunity,” posted someone.
#Τσιοδρας #τουρισμος #σχολεια #coronavirus #covid19Gr #pandemicpantry #pandemic Εγώ αυτό που κατάλαβα είναι ότι από 1 Ιουνίου η #κυβερνηση_Μητσοτακη μας εισάγει στην ανοσία της αγέλης. Ακριβώς αυτό που εγκατέλειψαν η Αγγλία και ΗΠΑ.
— ΦΩΤΕΙΝΗ Μ (@fmou611) May 21, 2020
Some even created a small Twitter poll when the plan was announced last evening:
Entrance into the country without test is: Right – Necessary – Careless – Wrong (41.1%)
Είσοδος στην χώρα χωρίς τεστ
— (((Phroexus))) (@phroex) May 20, 2020
Hardalias reassured that random tests will be conducted to tourists arriving with flights from abroad.
Asked whether there will be an infections increase following the tourism opening, spokesman for the National health Organization and Professor for Infectious Diseases, Sotiris Tsiodras, appeared cautious and said, he cannot 100% guarantee this.
He drew attention to the fact that the spread of the virus was high in bars, cruise ships and (ski) resorts.
According to the government plan announced on Wednesday, international flights will resume on June 15 yet from countries with good epidemiological data and only to the Athens airport. On July 1 directs flights form abroad will be allowed to all touristic destinations in the country – more details here.
On Thursday evening, health authorities announced 3 new confirmed cases and 2 more deaths. Total infections stand at 2,853, death toll at 168.
22 patients are intubated in hospitals Intensive Care Units, a total of 98 have been discharged from the ICUs.
144,078 tests have been conducted since the outbreak in late February.