ATHENS — As part of a plan to revive its crucial tourism sector, Greece is lifting quarantine restrictions beginning Monday for arrivals from European Union member states and several other countries including the United States and Britain.
The move effectively opens the country’s borders to travelers from the United States for the first time in more than a year.
Having suffered heavy economic losses last year because of the pandemic, Greece is determined to save its summer tourist season even though a third wave of coronavirus infections is in full force. Pressure on hospitals is high, with around 200,000 active coronavirus infections and a death toll of 9,462 as of Sunday.
Greece had previously required arrivals to quarantine for seven days, but will waive that rule for passengers from the listed countries as long as they have a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of their arrival.
The rule relaxation will also apply to travelers from Serbia and the United Arab Emirates, and echoes a system put in place last month for passengers from Israel, which has a world-leading inoculation campaign.
Greek government officials have said the aim is for a “gradual” welcoming of tourists before a planned official reopening of the country’s tourism sector on May 14.
A test run was arranged by travel-industry experts last week on the island of Rhodes in the southern Aegean, with a group of 188 Dutch tourists.
The Dutch visitors were given exclusive use of a hotel on the island, to which they were confined for the duration of an eight-day vacation. They were tested for coronavirus before their arrival, during their stay and before their departure on Monday, and will have to self-quarantine for 10 days on their return. The trial is so far seen as successful over all, though eight of the group were obliged to self-isolate within the hotel after inconclusive mid-vacation test results. Follow-up tests were negative.
The authorities have ramped up testing in recent weeks as they gradually lift lockdown restrictions — retail stores were permitted to open this month, on an appointment-only basis, and high schools reopened after a five-month closure. Free weekly self-administered rapid tests are available at Greek pharmacies and their use is compulsory in schools as well as much of the retail sector.