Britons on Tuesday were urged by the government to hold off on booking new vacations, including to Greece, before updated guidelines for safe destinations are released this week.
Liz Truzz, the UK’s cabinet minister for international trade, said that the document would be delivered on Thursday or Friday. The guidance relates to countries that can be visited without quarantine on arrival.
To help its citizens travel safely during the COVID 19 pandemic, the UK government uses a color coded system for labeling which countries it considers safe for travel.
Destinations issued a “green light” require a negative PCR test ahead of departure and a second negative test on or before their second day home in the UK. The amber and red lights mean varying lengths of quarantine for citizens returning from countries that receive these ratings.
The London Evening Standard reported that bookings were particularly high for Spain and Greece. It adds that neither country is expected to be included on the UK’s list of safe travel destinations.
However, the Evening Standard notes that both countries are likely to be included during the summer.
Greece plans to reopen May 14, opens to vacations
Last year after Greece reopened its borders during the summer holiday season, it quickly reclaimed its popularity with British travelers. At the time, Greece was the second most sought after vacation destination for Britons. The Greek islands in particular remained popular choices for post pandemic vacationing.
After experiencing a continent wide third wave in infections, Greece is preparing to reopen its economy for tourists by May 14.
The Greek government has maintained several precautions ahead of its planned reopening date however. These include quarantine requirements for those returning from abroad and restrictions on nonessential travel.
Those travelers who want to avoid a seven day quarantine requirement must be able to present to authorities one of two documents. They must carry either the results of a negative PCR test taken within the past 72-hour period, or a public health certificate written in English guaranteeing that they have been fully inoculated. In this case, fully vaccinated means that fourteen days have passed since their final vaccination.
Currently, the UK is included among twelve nations that are allowed entry into Greece without any quarantine requirement if they can present a vaccine certificate on request.
Tourism is absolutely vital to the Greek economy, accounting for about one fifth of GDP and employment, according to the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE).
Despite a partial reopening last summer, the restrictions on international travel made Greece’s GDP drop four percentage points, UN estimates suggest, as hotel and accommodation revenues slumped by two-thirds.
The Greek sector is almost entirely reliant on international tourism with the domestic population too small and still too financially constrained following the country’s 2008 debt crisis to make up for the drop in external visitors, according to the Financial Times.