Greek Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos on Monday told SKAI radio that it is “too soon” to discuss if lockdown restrictions would be eased in Greece in time for the Easter holiday.
The Greek Orthodox Easter this year will be celebrated on Sunday, May 2, and the question on everyone’s mind is if they will be able to travel to the countryside for the Easter holiday, which is a common practice among the Greeks. It is reminded that movement between Greek prefectures is currently banned (except for health and work reasons) due to the government’s effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
“It is too soon to have this discussion, we are in a third wave and there is pressure… There is an expectation and we will calmly try to see if we can make this move as well,” he said.
When asked if perhaps the government was considering to allow vaccinated people to travel to their villages, Skertsos answered: “We will see this along with the safe opening of tourism because there must be common rules for both tourists who visit the country and are vaccinated, and for Greek citizens who have been vaccinated… We will need a single framework,” he said.
Referring to the same issue on Monday, Greek infectious diseases expert Gkikas Magiorkinis said that there is a possibility that travel between prefectures will be allowed for Easter.
“If we were in this situation last year, I do not think we would have been discussing easing restrictions, but at the moment we are dealing with the lockdown fatigue of people, so I do not rule it out as a possibility, but I can not say that it will happen for sure,” he told the media.
Speaking to Mega Channel, the president of the Athens and Piraeus hospital doctors’ association (EINAP), Matina Pagoni, said that allowing intra-regional travel will depend on if vaccinations have proceeded.
“If we have moved forward with vaccinations and if we have carried out enough tests and evaluate that the parameters have been reduced, then only we can allow movement from prefecture to prefecture… I find it very difficult,” she said.
When asked about Greece opening to tourism and how tourists will be entering the country, Skertsos told SKAI that there will be no mandatory quarantine for travelers that have a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test with them.
“If travelers test positive at our airports then they will undergo quarantine,” he said.
It should be noted that Greek authorities will be performing sampling tests to tourists arriving from markets where many Covid-19 positive cases have been detected the day before.
Greece is expected to open officially to tourists on May 14.
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis recently referred to “five lines of defense” Greece will have in order to open for tourism safely this year.
With regard to schools reopening their doors to students, Skertsos said that Greece’s Covid-19 self-testing strategy will be key to this effort.
The first batch of free Covid-19 self-test kits will be available at pharmacies in Greece as of Wednesday, April 7. The first kits will be distributed to students and teachers. A negative self-test result will be mandatory for students and teachers to attend classes when schools reopen.
At the moment, officials have mentioned April 12 as the most possible date for the opening of high schools in Greece.
Greek health authorities on Monday announced 1,866 new coronavirus cases and 73 deaths.
Since the start of the pandemic, the total number of cases in the country has reached 277,277. The Covid-19 death toll in Greece is 8,453.