Greece will lift quarantine restrictions on coronavirus-free visitors from more countries including Australia and Russia from Monday as it extends exemptions ahead of formally opening up to tourists on May 15, the transport ministry said on Sunday.
The change, which came as Greece crossed the threshold of 10,000 deaths from COVID-19, follows a move this month to lift restrictions on visitors from EU countries, the United States and Britain, among other countries.
Visitors from these countries are allowed into Greece without spending a week in quarantine as long as they are vaccinated or test negative for the coronavirus.
As well as Australia and Russia, Greece will lift restrictions on visitors from New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, Rwanda and Singapore, the ministry said in a statement. Visitors from Serbia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will also be exempt from the quarantine requirement from Monday.
Greece, which emerged from the first wave of the pandemic last year in much better shape than many other countries in Europe, has been hit badly in recent months, with rising numbers of patients putting hospitals under severe strain in many areas.
However, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said last week the pandemic was showing signs of stabilizing and he confirmed plans for a May 15 opening of the vital tourism sector, which accounts for a fifth of economic output.
Despite a stuttering start to vaccinations in the European Union, the Greek government says it is better placed this summer than last year thanks to widespread testing, quarantine hotels and vaccination drives on small islands and among tourism workers.
Authorities reported 1,400 new cases and 57 deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday. The pandemic has now caused a total of 333,129 infections in Greece and 10,007 deaths.