Greece’s hotel owners are outraged following a ministerial decision obligating them and their establishments to create special “Covid-19 rooms” to house infected patients.
The decision came just less than a week before the country was scheduled to open up to tourists on July 1. According to various hoteliers, they weren’t given any previous consultation whatsoever regarding the matter.
Signed by the ministries of Finance, Health and Tourism, the joint decision requires that hotels provide the following accommodations: one isolation room for every 10 rooms and two quarantine rooms for every 50 rooms.
The number of quarantine rooms must also be equal to three percent of the total capacity of the entire hotel itself for establishments having more than 50 rooms.
The decision has triggered sharp criticism across all sides of the tourism industry. Many hotel owners are accusing the government of just giving them responsibility to create these isolation room while not providing any form of assistance or proper training for staff.
According to the president of the Hotel Owners Association of Heraklion, Crete, Nikos Chalkiadakis, “It is a big issue to ensure that the Covid-19-tested-positive tourist will keep the quarantine and stay in his room.”
While the association’s president said that the ministerial decision for isolation rooms is possible in theory, it would be very difficult to execute properly in reality.
The Association of Hoteliers of the prefecture of Magnisia, central Greece, said that the provisions will deter tourists booking in hotels.
“The government does not seem to understand that the mere announcement that hotels in Greece will have rooms that will accommodate cases, is a deterrent for customers,” it said in a statement.
The Health and Tourism ministers previously planned to establish “quarantine hotels” in tourist regions, but that idea did not come to fruition because the government did not adjusting hotel prices.
Athanasios Exadaktylos, president of the Panhellenic Medical Association, also explained that converting hotels into Covid-19 isolation rooms could be costly as well. He estimated expenses of up to 12,000 euros ($13,000) per month for hotels with a 40-room capacity.
Greece’s Minister of Tourism Haris Theoharis defended the Joint Ministerial Decision via Twitter, saying that “a double protection grid is being promoted, which includes the temporary operation of 3% of the rooms as isolation rooms for any cases, while at the same time there will be quarantine hotels.”