Greece is opening up to tourists again after relaxing some of the stringent restrictions that have kept hotels, clubs and bars closed since March.
Between June 6 and June 15 the country will roll out phase six of its plan to ease lockdown measures, beginning by allowing restaurants and hotels to open up their indoor dining areas to clients as long as they respecting strict social distancing measures – face masks for employees will be mandatory and businesses have been strongly advised to fit Plexiglass screens in reception areas and in front of cash registers.
As the weather heats up and Greeks flock to have fun in the sun, beach bar owners have welcomed the news that they will once again be allowed to sell food and alcohol and put on nights of music.
On June 8, Greece will open most of its entertainment facilities, including casinos, internet cafés, nightclubs and live music venues, with capacity reduced to 60 per cent and strict social distancing measures in place.
Greek musicians, who have been badly hit by the crisis, have responded positively to the announcement, although some have reservations.
In an interview for Skai TV last week, celebrated Cretan lyra player, Nikos Zoidakis, said that it would be difficult to hold the island’s glendis – the traditional summer music events when thousands of locals and visitors sit at trestle tables together to eat, drink and listen to Cretan music.
“How can we have our usual celebrations here in Crete when we have this virus?” he asked the Greek channel’s presenters.
The final stage of phase six will see the country’s seasonal hotels opening their doors on June 15, although access to spas, saunas, outdoor pools and other public areas will be strictly regulated.
International flights will only operate out of the country’s main airport, Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in the capital Athens, until June 15, when Thessaloniki Airport in northern Greece will also resume operations.
However, it is not all good news for British holidaymakers.
Until July 1, all passengers flying from any of the UK’s 13 airports with a high risk of coronavirus transmission will be required to spend the night in a designated hotel on arrival, undergo a test for coronavirus symptoms, and self-quarantine for seven days in their chosen destination if the test is negative.
Passengers found to be carrying the virus will face 14 days of supervised quarantine, Greece’s tourism minister, Harry Theoharis, confirmed.
Under current plans, rules will be relaxed further on July 1, with random testing for UK arrivals and no requirement to self isolate.
Following the news that 12 passengers had tested positive for coronavirus after flying into Athens from Doha on Monday, the Greek government has been criticised for putting the public’s health at risk in its bid to salvage the country’s tourist season.
But with confirmed cases still hovering below 3,000, and fewer than a dozen virus patients currently in intensive care, Nikos Hardalias, Greece’s Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management, stated that the phase of lifting restrictive measures is "progressing smoothly".