Greece to open tourism services on May 15 - days before foreign holidays set to be allowed from UK

Lizzie Edmonds
·3-min read
<p>An employee on a beach in Greece</p> (AP)

An employee on a beach in Greece


Greece says its tourism services will open on May 15 when a ban on travel between different regions of the country will also be lifted.

Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the announcement in a televised address on Wednesday, adding that restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen outdoor areas from May 3.

Restrictions, many of which have been in effect since early November, will remain in place over Orthodox Easter on May 2.

“Our goal is to have a safe Easter and a free summer. But one cannot undermine the other,” Mr Mitsotakis said.

“That’s why we should not travel at Easter. Athens and other cities still have many Covid cases. Mass movement carries the risk of spreading the virus everywhere.”

Foreign holidays are not currently permitted for Britons and are illegal under covid restrictions.

Under the current roadmap out of lockdown, they will be permitted from 17 May - given that infection data and death rates stay at current low levels.

Following that, destinations will be graded with a “traffic light system” ranging from red to green countries. What country has what status is expected to be announced in early May.

For red countries - the destinations with the strictest measures - travellers will only be allowed to enter the UK if they are a British, Irish or third-country national with residency rights.

And they will need to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel at a cost of thousands of pounds.

India, South Africa and Argentina are among the red countries.

For green countries, neither tests nor quarantine apply for arrivals to the UK. The only country that is green at the moment is Ireland.

Despite the lockdown, Greece has struggled to contain a flare-up in cases that started in late January, and its mortality rate remains above the European Union average.

The cumulative death toll reached 9,713 on Wednesday.

Tourism is a key industry for the Greek economy, and travel receipts last year sank by more than 75 per cent from 2019, dropping from 18.2 billion euros to 4.3 billion euros (£15.7 billion to £3.7 billion).

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The slump, together with the impact of domestic lockdown measures, helped push Greece into recession, with GDP plummeting by 8.2 per cent last year.

On Monday, Greece lifted quarantine restrictions for travellers from EU member states, the US, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, Israel, and non-EU members Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland which are part of a European travel pact.

Travellers from those countries are no longer subject to a seven-day quarantine requirement.

Easter is considered the most important religious holiday in the predominantly Orthodox Christian country and is often celebrated with relatives in rural ancestral homes.

After the holiday, schools will reopen on May 10 for grades 1 to 9.

Students in the final three grades returned to class on April 12.

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