It is one of the most popular destinations for British tourists. Now the Greek tourism ministry is understood to be seeking clarity from the UK government about its traffic light system to ensure international travel restrictions are lifted on 17 May.
Under plans published by the Department for Transport, the traffic light system is being drawn up with green, amber and red lists of countries that will depend on whether, and where, passengers returning to England from them will need to quarantine.
Details have not been revealed about which countries will be put on the green list. Passengers arriving from these countries will not need to quarantine on return unless they receive a positive result, but must pay for pre-departure Covid-19 tests as well as a PCR tests on arrival back in England.
The lists are expected to be published at the same time as confirmation is given that it is safe to allow nonessential foreign travel, possibly on 10 May – a week ahead of rules changing for England.
But a Greek tourism ministry source told the Guardian they were keen to put their concerns about the system to ministers in the UK: “We want to speak to the British government. Tour operators are very opposed, clearly further clarity is needed.”
The Greek government has spearheaded the drive to create EU-wide vaccination certificates to open up travel, with the tourism-dependent country already reporting bookings for June. Talks between Anglo-Greek technical teams on how the so-called “vaccine passports” would work were making good progress, officials in Athens said.
In the UK, Covid status certificates are being developed by the NHS to allow people to prove they have been vaccinated, had a recent negative test result or had natural immunity through prior Covid infection. Government officials said the same parameters could be used for a digital travel certification system to allow travellers leaving England to avoid having to quarantine when they arrived at their destination.
In Israel, which has reopened much of its economy following what was the world’s fastest coronavirus vaccination campaign, the country is maintaining strict restrictions on who can enter in an effort to prevent introduction of more lethal or vaccine-resistant variants of the disease.
The government had limited the number of Israeli citizens and permanent residents allowed to fly in every day. Only this week did it agree to allow vaccinated foreign visitors who have a first-degree relative in Israel to enter, and mass tourism to the country’s beaches is not expected to restart soon.
As part of the bid to ease travel restrictions, the UK’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has said the cost of some PCR tests is too high and that companies found to be profiteering could be removed as government-recommended testers.