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Greece Urges EU to ‘Move Faster’, Adopt ‘Health Passport’ Idea

Photo source: Eurocontrol

Photo source: Eurocontrol

Greece is once again urging the EU to take swifter action with measures that will allow safe travel, calling on member states to agree and adopt the idea of Covid-19 vaccination certificates.

In an interview to the Financial Times ahead of Thursday’s EU summit to examine the issue again, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said some European countries were displaying “short sightedness” with regard to what needs to be done and how fast in order to restart non-essential safe travel.

“Looking at the reaction of some countries to vaccination certificate proposals, I feel there’s a lot of short sightedness. There’s more to be done now to prepare ourselves,” Theoharis told the Financial Times.

The Greek tourism minister referred to northern European countries, which he said are “unwilling to look ahead and plan for an economic recovery in the summer. We need to move more quickly”.

Theoharis underlined that it was critical EU leaders “move more quickly” and embrace the vaccine certificate idea, which was tabled a month ago by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The global travel and tourism industry welcomed the proposal, which however ran into privacy and discrimination concerns by some EU states.

Mitsotakis has repeatedly explained that the vaccination certificate will be used only to enable travel and only for an initial transition period in order to get economies going. After that, he said, member states can re-assess.

Theoharis added that reaching an EU-wide agreement on a mutually accepted framework for non-essential travel would go a long way toward creating confidence among potential travelers to plan for their summer holidays.

Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis.

Echoing the WTTC, the minister also expressed his disappointment with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recovery roadmap presented on Monday, which leaves return to international travel last after May 17.

“I don’t understand this kind of messaging. People from the UK were able to have a vacation . . . I don’t see how we can take one step back now that we have more tools in our arsenal,” Theoharis told the Financial Times.

Lastly, referring to Greece’s deal this month with Israel that allows vaccinated travelers to move restriction-free between the two countries with the use of the so-called “green pass”, Theoharis said the country was currently in talks for similar bilateral arrangements with other nations.


Editor’s note: Greece’s plan of people using vaccination certificates when traveling aims for them to be able to move freely within European countries and without restrictions (such as being obliged to undergo Covid-19 testing). Greek authorities have highlighted on many occasions that a vaccination certificate will not be an exclusive prerequisite for travel to Greece. When the time comes and the country begins accepting vaccination certificates from travelers, those who are unvaccinated can enter Greece but will be obliged to present a negative PCR test (and may have to undergo quarantine depending on rules that may be in force at the time).

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  1. Nigel James Reply

    Harry Theoharis is right, but I don’t think “fast” is in the EU’s vocabulary judging by its sclerotic move with vaccines, so good luck with that.

    Boris Johnson is right to be cautious, the UK has come so far so quickly from a truly awful position and there’s some justification for saying he got it wrong the first time round, so he doesn’t want to mess it up this time. The vaccinations (now around 18m of them) are doing a great job and infections are falling fast.

    I would have like to attend the Mediterranean Yacht Show in Nafplion in April, but it wasn’t to be and I can’t go to Greece until late May, so I lose a month or so. In the great scheme of things, so what? I stand a better chance of surviving and Greece has been there a few thousand years, so this isn’t even a blip in time.

    As for vaccination passports, when we’re jabbed in the UK we each get a little card recording what with, where and when. Will that do?

  2. Steve Johnston Reply

    Any policy that reduces the number of Covid carriers travelling makes good sense. The same would be true for any potentially deadly contagious disease. The sooner we wipe out the pandemic through sensible measures the quicker we will be able to return to normality. Why would anyone want to travel without being vaccinated? Well done the Greek government for taking this approach. Let’s encourage other Governments to do the same. There are great economic benefits to be had from making travel safer and not just for the countries receiving the visitors. Workers need a break and will return rejuvenated and more productive.

  3. Luca PELLANDINI Reply

    Vaccination process is still very slow in many European countries and there is no doubt that not everybody will be able to get vaccinated before the summer season. These people should not be discriminated and able to travel anyway. I hope that we will still be able to go to Greece by showing a negative Covid test (which to me seems absolutely normal to provided it upon arrival). Quarantaine should however be lifted if an additional test is carried out at Athens airport on arrival.

    • Farhan Reply

      Negative certification is enough for travel for the person under 50s.
      Elder should be vaccinated.

  4. Henry Beutler Reply

    The Greek tourism minister referred to northern European countries, which he said are “unwilling to look ahead and plan for an economic recovery in the summer. We need to move more quickly”.

    The dont care. Its not important to them
    We are in prison since a year
    Greek most open the border for turist
    With a fast test
    At the moment a normal test costs around 200 fast test will be much cheaper i think

  5. Mandi Wilson Reply

    As I understand the report, anyone that does not have a vaccine passport can still travel to Greece, but may have to quarantine or have a negative test – seems reasonable to me. I for one am reassured that vaccine passports may be required and would definitely choose to travel to a country where I and my fellow tourists have to evidence the reduced risk that we pose, both to each other, and to our hosts.

  6. Joan Brewer Reply

    Nothing will stop me visiting Greece this year. If a certificate makes it easier I will be demanding one

  7. Geoffrey Barlow Reply

    If Greece makes vaccines obligatory then I am afraid I will not be coming on my usual twice a year vacations.

    • Jacqueline Harrison Reply

      They won’t be obligatory, without one a negative PCR result would be required. If not prepared for that then holiday in UK.

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