Greece holidays 2021: when can you travel to country from UK - and will you need a Covid vaccine passport?
The Greek government has given a date that it plans to reopen country’s border to tourists
The Greek government has revealed the much-awaited date that it aims to open up the country to tourists.
It follows Athens’ calls for an EU-wide vaccination certificate to be rolled out to kickstart holiday travel after the Covid crisis.
Boris Johnson has said vaccine passports are likely to be a “feature” of our lives in the future.
So, when will Greece open to tourists, when will you be able to travel from the UK - and will you need a vaccine passport?
Here is everything you need to know.
When will Greece open to tourists?
It is hoped that Greece will officially begin its tourism season on 14 May, depending on the state of the virus at that time.
Announcing the date at the virtual travel trade show ITB Berlin, the country’s tourism minister Haris Theoharis said from then, anyone who had been vaccinated, had antibodies or had tested negative for Covid-19 would be welcomed.
“We aim to open tourism by 14 May with specific rules and updated protocols,” he said.
“Until then, we will gradually lift restrictions if conditions allow.”
Greece heavily relies on visitors from the UK each year, as they are the country’s second-largest source market following Germany.
The Greek government has said it aims to attract at least 50 per cent of the 31.3 million people who visited the country prior to the pandemic.
When will I be able to go on holiday to Greece?
The date that Greece hopes to welcome back foreign visitors is earlier than when people in England will be permitted to travel abroad on holiday.
According to the UK government’s roadmap out of lockdown, the earliest possible date for international holidays to start up again is 17 May.
But this date is dependent on strict conditions, like the progress of the vaccinations rollout and the prevalence of concerning variants of the virus, and is subject to a review closer to the time.
And transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday 10 March that it was still too early for people to be booking foreign summer holidays.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there were "lots of questions" to answer about "how safe it will be in June to travel".
"We have said it will remain illegal to travel internationally until at least 17 May - that's an at-the-earliest date,” he warned.
Mr Shapps said holidaymakers should look towards 12 April when the government will publish a global travel taskforce report.
The transport secretary said ministers were looking at other countries’ vaccine programmes, as well as the UK’s rollout.
He continued: "There are lots of questions the answer to which we simply don't know yet about how safe it will be in June to travel around.”
International holidays are currently prohibited from all UK nations during lockdown, with tight travel bans in place.
Will I need a vaccine passport to travel?
The Greek government has specifically said it will welcome people with a Covid-19 vaccine, who have antibodies or have had a recent negative test when it reopens its borders.
The EU commission’s vice-president Margaritis Schinas said he believed a digital vaccination pass would be ready by the summer.
“I think after the last summit there is convergence on the need for this digital certificate,” the Greek politician told ERT.
Going into more detail, he said: “It will be a European product and will be the same throughout Europe.”
Yet Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU commission, has warned about the legal and technical complications of creating such a certificate.
Teams from Britain and Greece have been in discussions about setting up a travel corridor using a commonly-agreed digital pass.
This echoes the Greek agreement with Israel, where tourists will be admitted to the country by proving their coronavirus status via Israel’s “green” digital certificate.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is currently leading a UK government review into the issue of vaccine passes.
And talking about jab passports for international travel, Boris Johnson said at a Downing Street press conference on 8 March: “I'm sure that will be a feature of our life in the future.”
All adults in the UK are expected to have been offered a dose of the Covid vaccine by the end of July 2021.