Government attempts to boost foreign tourism amid a pandemic has fellow Europeans warning its citizens not to travel to Greece.

The decision on how quickly the country should re-open has resulted in the opposition calling for the resignation of the Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis after conflicting reports from which countries tourists would be allowed in.

But resistance is not coming from just within Greece as several countries like Germany and Denmark maintain travel advisories warning people to reconsider, or not travel at all, to Greece.

The opposition spokesperson from the opposition Syriza party has attacked the government for chaotically opening up the country

“There is a clear anxiety about the future of the Greek economy. Greek society is worried by the way the government is handling the crisis," said Alexis Charitsis.

The opposition has also attacked the ruling government for opening up flights to 29 countries including China and Germany. They have been further criticised for only doing random sample testing of tourists.

Germany has warned its own citizens not to travel to Greece as reports have come out more than once from other countries experiencing surges in cases after normalisation measures.

“One day the Tourism Ministry comes up with a list of 29 countries for which the Greek borders are open, and the very next day it uploads a Foreign Affairs Ministry list with different countries, including even flight origin airports in high-contagion countries, according to the EU Safety Aviation Agency, also forgetting in both cases its initial commitment to virus testing," the opposition said in a statement.

Syriza described the situation as ‘unprecedented chaos’.

The country had hoped to welcome back international tourism from 15 June in a bid to stave off further economic devastation in the largely tourism-dependent economy.

Greek health authorities have reported a dramatic increase in coronavirus infections since the country gradually began opening-up towards the end of May.

In a 24-hour period on Monday, the country reported 52 new infections, the largest daily increase since April with authorities recording an additional 97 infections since Thursday last week.

More worryingly for Greek authorities, of the 97 reported infections, 30 involved travellers from abroad.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that most flights to the country would resume by 1 July, however, it is unclear if there will be a policy change after this recent spike.

One online social user on Twitter pointed to the growing risk for Greece as it opens up to other countries.

“All 91 passengers of yesterday's Qatar Airlines flight from Doha to Athens to go into quarantine after 12 test positive for coronavirus. Authorities impose temporary ban on all flights from Qatar. A taste of the risks of opening up Greece to tourism,” they opined.

The country initially won praise for acting quickly against the spread of the virus. Greece now has just over 3,000 reported infections and 182 deaths.

Early measures taken by Greek authorities prevented a similar outcome seen in much of the rest of Europe.

But the recent uptick in cases may now keep tourists away.

“We need to be on alert, we need to be vigilant and we need to understand that the issue of the virus’ evolution has everything to with each of us individually,” said the Deputy Minister for Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias, at a live briefing.

At the last live briefing two weeks ago, Hardalias said that “if we return for the briefing, this would mean that things were…difficult.”

As the lockdown in Greece has eased, many have headed to the beaches. The government is reportedly eyeing local lockdowns to deal with outbreaks.

Post-coronavirus flare-ups

Singapore, a country that was initially lauded for its swift measures against the spread of the coronavirus, has over the last two months seen a dramatic increase in infections.

The sudden rush of infections largely emanated from a cluster of immigrant dormitories which made social distancing impossible and provided the perfect incubation for the disease.

In a statement, the UN has said: “The fear of arrest and detention may push these vulnerable population groups further into hiding and prevent them from seeking treatment, with negative consequences for their own health and creating further risks to the spreading of Covid-19 to others.”

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has also warned Greek authorities that leaving migrants outside of the response to the pandemic risks all of society, stressing “immediate inclusion of all migrants in the national response to Covid-19”.

“Everyone is at risk. Migrants and refugees in Greece are susceptible to the virus as much as the Greek community” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of IOM’s Mission in Greece.

“It is critical that everyone, including migrants and refugees on the mainland and the islands, are ensured equal access to health services, including prevention, testing and treatment, especially in times like these.”

Early opening

On 1 June, many European countries began cautiously opening-up and the European Union hopes that by the end of June, people will be able to travel freely.

The Greek example is an early warning that the path back to ‘normality’ may not be as simple as hoped, and further lockdowns may be required.

In the US, President Donald Trump has been campaigning to end the statewide lockdowns. With protests rocking the country in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer, the efficiency that some lockdowns may have had, are quickly becoming null and void.

In South America, particularly in Brazil, the number of infections and deaths is continuing to spiral out of control.

The right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has even stopped publishing data on infections and deaths.

Source: TRT World