Greek islands plan to be 'COVID-free' by mid-June to tempt tourists

·2-min read
Greece's islands hope to have vaccinated all residents by mid-June. (Getty Images)
Greece's islands hope to have vaccinated all residents by mid-June. (Getty Images)

With the continuing uncertainty of travel restrictions, many have already resigned themselves to a summer without a sunny holiday abroad.

But the Greek islands are trying their utmost to tempt tourists back this year by going "COVID-free".

They have been prioritising the vaccination of all local residents – including summer workers – to render destinations like Santorini, Mykonos and Milos as safe to visit as possible.

They hope "Operation Blue Freedom" will be completed by mid-June, opening up the possibility that the islands could be added to the UK's "green list".

Read more: Holiday at home! How to have a real 'staycation'

Currently, countries on the green list include Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, as well as several small remote islands that are British Overseas Territories – but not Portugal, which was last week moved on to the amber list.

Watch: Should I book a summer holiday?

Greece as a whole is on the "amber" list at present, but hopes its fortunes will soon change.

Last year, the country welcomed just 25% of its normal visitors – affecting businesses that rely heavily on tourism.

Read more: The most picturesque 'secret' beaches in the UK revealed

The destination is usually hugely popular with British holidaymakers: before the pandemic, more than 3 million visits were made each year, according to the Foreign Office.

Despite the progress, however, some islanders are concerned that – even with full vaccination – there is the possibility of more transmissible COVID-19 variants being flown in.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Morfo Valla, head of Milos Health Centre, warned that having 25,000 people flown in during July and August is a "very different" situation from vaccinating 5,000 local residents.

Many, though, will be keeping a keen eye on the changing situation – and their passports close at hand.

Watch: Tourists scramble home from Portugal before change to amber list

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