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Greece to receive tourists with Russian, Chinese vaccines, says minister of tourism

Focusing on tourists from non-EU member countries, the minister stressed that "the aim is to receive everyone who wants to come, of course in compliance with the established conditions"

ATHENS, March 9./TASS/. Greece will also receive tourists vaccinated with Russian and Chinese coronavirus vaccines not approved by the European Union, Minister of Tourism Harry Theoharis told a news conference within the framework of an international tourism exhibition in Berlin on Tuesday.

Focusing on tourists from non-EU member countries, the minister stressed that "the aim is to receive everyone who wants to come, of course in compliance with the established conditions".

Greece will guarantee "that those inoculated with vaccines not approved in the European Union, for example, vaccines from China or Russia, will be able to come, too," the Athens Macedonian News Agency quoted the minister as saying.

When asked about the prices of tourism products this year, Theoharis noted that it "will be very difficult to achieve their increase, since the supply [on the market] will surpass the demand". However, the minister is optimistic about the future of Greek tourism, since measures of state support have helped companies to survive, while those who wanted to withdraw from the tourism business saw a big interest from investors.

Theoharis told the news conference about plans of the Greek government for a safe opening of the 2021 tourist season.

"Taking full account of the need for an honest implementation of epidemiological protocols, we are seeking to open the Greek tourist season on May 14. Until then, we will be gradually lifting restrictions if the assessments of infectious diseases specialists regarding the development of the pandemic permit," he was quoted as saying.

For April, the country plans a pilot test involving tourists from EU nations, as well as other countries where the process of vaccination is active, for example from Israel, the minister said ."I emphasize, however, that all opening dates are tentative and may change depending on the situation," he stressed.


Terms of entry


Theoharis told the news conference about the main healthcare protocols to be used at the point of tourists’ entry. Travelers will be allowed to enter the country if they have been vaccinated or have immunity after coronavirus, or have tested negative in a recent coronavirus test. "All tourists may be subject to random coronavirus tests, like it was the case last year," he added. However, the difference is that these will be express tests and if tourists test positive they will be quarantined immediately without having to wait for 24 hours like it was in 2020, Theoharis explained.

"The costs of hospitalization or any other necessary actions aimed at protecting the health of tourists, specialists and citizens will be defrayed by the Greek state," the minister added. Requirements for Greek citizens will also apply to all tourists, he stressed, specifying the mandatory use of protective masks in public places among them.

In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.