The Greek Minister of Tourism said on Thursday that all tourists planning to visit Greece this summer, after the season begins on July 1, must have tested negative for the coronavirus before they board the airplane to come to the country.
“The idea is to carry out inspections in the country of departure, so that people already on the plane feel safe that other passengers have tested negative for the coronavirus,” Charis Theoharis told German newspaper Faz.
Although he underscored that epidemiologists have not yet made a final decision, the Minister stressed that “people need to be able to rest and not constantly wonder on the beach how high the rate of infection in the country where the tourist sitting under the umbrella nearby comes from.”
Currently, as the German newspaper points out, tests offered for the virus at the Vienna airport, for example, cost 190 euros each.
A family of four would therefore have to be willing to pay an additional 1,500 euros in addition to their vacation expenses if they are forced to take another test on the way back, in order to avoid a 14-day quarantine in their nation of origin.
Theoharis acknowledged this additional cost may be prohibitive for most, but he expressed his hope that by July there could be tests costing as little as 10 euros per person. “Huge resources are being invested to make the tests cheaper and easier to access,” he stressed.
The Minister also said that tests “are not necessary” for those returning home after their holidays in Greece.
“Greece is clearly in a better position to fight the pandemic than most other countries. Our numbers are significantly lower. That is why I do not really share the logic of further tests,” he explained.
The Greek minister called for all governments to work together for a European solution to tourism-related issues during this difficult coronavirus era.