Coronavirus: Britons not welcome in Greece until infection rate declines, says tourism minister

After Greece announced a gradual opening up to international visitors, the country’s tourism minister has confirmed that British travellers will not initially be welcome because of the high incidence of coronavirus cases in the UK.

On Wednesday, the Greek premier, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said the domestic tourism season will begin on 15 June, with the first international holiday flights touching down 16 days later.

Ahead of the anticipated lifting, easyJet has today started selling flights from Gatwick to Athens from 1 July onwards.

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But on Thursday afternoon, Athens time, the tourism minister re-tweeted an ITV report which indicated British visitors will not immediately be welcome.

In the report, Harry Theoharis said Greece will want to see UK infection rates decline before British visitors will be accepted.

“I think that the UK has a big difference in terms of the current medical status of the country with Greece, so I don’t think it’s likely it will be there,” he told ITV.

In the tweet, the tourism minister wrote: “Always guided by the absolute safety of Greeks and our visitors.”

On the BBC’s Coronavirus Newscast on Monday, Mr Theoharis urged the UK to agree to mutual “quarantine immunity”.

He said: “If we don’t impose quarantine for people coming to Greece from the UK from some day onwards, we would welcome if the UK extended the same thing.”

The Independent has approached Mr Theoharis for comment.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer, said the UK is “becoming an area of low incidence of Covid-19”.

Around three million British visitors – the vast majority of them tourists – travel to Greece in a normal year. The UK and Germany are the country’s two leading tourism markets.

At present the Foreign Office urges against all but essential travel abroad.