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Travel Medicine Specialists Examine Protocols for Greece to Welcome ‘Coronavirus-free’ Tourists

Greek travel medicine experts are currently examining the safest ways for Greece to welcome inbound travelers, during the post-coronavirus period, but without also “letting in” the coronavirus itself. (It is noted that the practice of travel medicine deals with the prevention and management of diseases and conditions that are acquired during travel.)

The issue of health protocols for travel in the post-Covid-19 period is currently on the agenda of tourism ministers across the European Union. However, there is still uncertainty as to what exactly can be established in order for citizens to travel freely from one country to another.

“This is a special issue that we are examining on the committee (of health experts) and are discussing with a special subcommittee of specialists that deal with travel medicine,” Health Ministry representative Professor Sotiris Tsiodras said on Thursday, adding that the criteria for an individual to be considered “immune” to the virus is also under examination.

Health Ministry representative Professor Sotiris Tsiodras and Greek Deputy Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias. Photo source: civilprotection.gr

Health Ministry representative Professor Sotiris Tsiodras and Greek Deputy Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias. Photo source: civilprotection.gr

“Τhe World Health Organization has recently stated that we have insufficient scientific data on what immunity means, what the presence of positive antibodies means and whether it protects against the virus”, the professor said.

According to Tsiordas, it is still too early to speak of a solution and what criteria could be used in order to allow a safe entry and exit into and from an EU country.

“It is still not clear… I believe that by the end of May we should have more scientific data to clearly state what could be used as a criterion (for travel),” he said.

The Greek Tourism Ministry recently referred to the idea of “health passports” as a “safe entry” practice for travelers to enter Greece but nothing clearly defined has been announced at the time.

Photo source: Greek Health Ministry (moh.gov.gr)

Photo source: Greek Health Ministry (moh.gov.gr)

In an interview on Thursday, Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis said that Greece is expected to be the main tourism destination this summer, out of a relatively limited world tourism market.

“Of course there will be revenue loss… but on the other hand this year’s tourism year will not be lost,” Gerapetritis said.

The minister mentioned that Greek hotels will open in two phases (starting from June) provided of course that the situation moves smoothly. It is noted that health protocols are also expected for tourist accommodation in order for hotels to begin operating.

Gerapetritis referred to inbound travel to Greece as a complex situation that must include a wider European policy on how travelers will enter countries during the post-coronavirus period.

“This is expected to be discussed by the European Council… In its approach, there should be a common policy with rules to protect public health and the environment,” he said.

About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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