The Greek government announced today that it will open up to international tourists from 29 different countries on June 15, according to the English-language Greek news outlet Ekathimerini. People from countries with high infection rates for the coronavirus, including the U.S., UK, Sweden, Spain, and Brazil, will not be allowed to enter Greece.
The announcement comes as the U.S. has identified more than 1.7 million infections and over 101,000 deaths from covid-19, the highest in the world, with Brazil experiencing an increasingly troubling rate of new infections and deaths this week. Brazil now has over 438,000 cases and at least 26,000 deaths, the second-highest recorded count in the world.
Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ told the German newspaper Bild earlier this week that the country wanted tourism from places that “have similar epidemiological data to those of Greece.”
Which is to say, Greece only wants tourists from places with very few cases of coronavirus. Greece has identified just 2,906 cases of covid-19 and seen just 175 deaths from the disease, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. Greece’s success is largely thanks to a nationwide lockdown that helped stop the spread of coronavirus but devastated the economy. Now they’re ready to open back up, complete with plenty of screening for tourists, even on far-reaching islands.
“We will also make sure that sufficient diagnostic tests are found at all the islands, even small islands, if someone needs to be tested,” Mitsotakis told Bild in an interview about tourism to the country.
Visitors from China, where the virus originated, will be allowed to travel to Greece since recent data shows the country has largely gotten its infection rate under control. China has identified over 84,000 cases and at least 4,600 deaths, but it has maintained low rates for new infections through extensive testing and contact tracing. Greece’s list will be “updated and expanded” with new countries on July 1, according to local news sources.
The origin countries from which people will be allowed to travel to Greece, according to the Economic Times:
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- South Korea
As countries begin to come out of lockdown around the world, many nations are forming alliances of trusted citizens to ensure that international travel can resume safely. Sadly, countries like the U.S. are not on anyone’s list thanks to the mismanagement of this crisis by U.S. President Donald Trump, who repeatedly said that the disease would just “go away.”
The Prime Ministers of Norway and Denmark announced today that travel will soon be allowed between those two countries, which have largely contained the virus, but Sweden, another country in the region, has been left out of their travel bubble, according to the Financial Times. Norway and Denmark both instituted lockdowns on March 12, but Sweden used a more lax approach. Predictably, Sweden had the highest death rates per capita in the world this week.
Australia and New Zealand, both of which have managed their outbreaks reasonably well, have also discussed creating a safe travel zone where people can fly freely between the two countries in the coming months. Australia has identified over 7,000 cases and just 103 deaths, while New Zealand is really the envy of the world with just 1,504 cases and 22 deaths.
Israel, which is far from the South Pacific, has also been discussed as a possible candidate for the Aus-NZ travel bubble by December, given the close business ties of the three countries. Israel has seen almost 17,000 cases and just 284 deaths.
Countries like New Zealand and Greece are incredibly dependent on foreign tourists for their economies but don’t expect them to welcome Americans and Brits anytime soon. It’s literally a matter of life and death.