Greece announces that it will lift most Covid-19 rules for international and domestic flights, while Italy does away with a health pass required to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms.

Greece is expecting high numbers of visitors this year, with officials predicting revenues reaching 80 percent of 2019 levels.
Greece is expecting high numbers of visitors this year, with officials predicting revenues reaching 80 percent of 2019 levels. (AP)

For travellers heading to Europe, summer vacations have got a whole lot easier.

Italy and Greece relaxed some Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday before Europe's peak summer tourist season, in a sign that life was increasingly returning to normal.

Greece’s civil aviation authority announced that it would lift all Covid-19 rules for international and domestic flights except for the wearing of face masks during flights and at airports.

Previously, air travellers were required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or a recent recovery from the disease.

Under a decree passed by Italy's health ministry, the country did away with the health pass that had been required to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and other venues.

The green pass, which showed proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus or a recent negative test, is still required to access hospitals and nursing homes.

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Mask rules relaxed

Some indoor mask mandates also ended, including inside supermarkets, workplaces and stores. Masks are still required on public transport, in cinemas and in all health care and eldercare facilities.

As of Sunday, visitors to Italy also no longer have to fill out the EU passenger locator form, a complicated online ordeal required at airport check-in.

Public health officials say masks still remain highly recommended for all indoor activities, and private companies can still require them.

Even with the restrictions increasingly going by the wayside, public health officials urged prudence and stressed that the pandemic was still not over.

Italy is reporting 699 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and is recording more than 100 deaths per day, with a total confirmed death toll at 163,500. But hospital capacity remains stable and under the critical threshold.

Italy was the epicentre of Europe's outbreak when it recorded the first locally transmitted case on February 21, 2020.

The government imposed one of the harshest lockdowns and production shutdowns in the West during the first wave of the virus, and maintained more stringent restrictions than many of its neighbours in subsequent waves.

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Source: AP