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Greece Announces a Bold Concept to Open Soon. Now, About That Plan... | Frommer's FreeImages / Rafael Adres Marin de la Cruz

Greece Announces a Bold Concept to Open Soon. Now, About That Plan...

Greece has been comparatively lucky this spring, with some of the lowest infection rates and fatality numbers in Europe (144 deaths in a population of 11 million).

With that in mind, and since its curve seems to be flattening, Greece partially reopened May 4, putting hair salons and small retail back into service. 

And in a move that puts the country at the forefront of European tourism, Greek hotels are set to reopen June 1, along with restaurants, museums, and historic sights.

So—back to normal, right?

Not so fast.

For this phase of Greece's reopening, it's expected that only locals will stay in the hotels. Travelers from overseas will have to jump through a few hoops, and those hoops seem to be shoddily constructed and not scientifically sound.

"Visitors will come with some sort of certificate," Greece’s Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis said in a radio interview. After he spoke, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said that tourists will also have to pass health checks to be able to enter.

The problem is that no such certificates exist. None are even in the works for this summer (with the exception of Chile's "immunity passports").

As I noted in an earlier article, the World Health Organization has come out against these types of certificates, noting that there's not enough evidence yet that having antibodies from the coronavirus protects a person from contracting the disease a second time. In fact, as the WHO points out, a small percentage of patients got sick again after having been declared virus-free, and scientists are still not sure why.

Now, Greece could do what the Emirates airline has done, which is to use quick-acting coronavirus tests administered before allowing entry.

But so far, Greece has only given 80,000 tests to its own population. It seems unlikely that Greece will have enough for visitors, too.

Another worry for travelers: the stability of the country's hotel industry.

Last year, when British tour company Thomas Cook went out of business, it dealt a severe blow to the Greek hotel industry because many properties in the Greek Isles were dependent on Cook's business to stay afloat.

The global pause has been a double whammy for the industry. In fact, a study by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels found that some 65% of Greek hotels might go bankrupt because of the break in business. Should that happen, visitors will have fewer choices, and with fewer options, they may have to pay more for a stay.

So will Americans or even non-Greek Europeans actually holiday in Greece this summer? With things as they stand, it's very hard to know.