Health

Summer holidays to Greece could be on the cards as Britain begins talks with Mediterranean country


Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis told how preliminary discussions were taking place including on “vaccine passports”.

Nearly four million people from Britain visit Greece a year and Mr Theoharis said he hoped for a “semi-normal” summer with vaccination roll-outs and Covid infection rates dropping in Europe in warmer months.

He suggested that people in Britain who have been vaccinated would not need to take a Covid test before flying to Greece, and said he was also “very hopeful” that a technical solution will be found for a “vaccine passport” system.

“We certainly hope that with the vaccination programmes under way, and the UK is one of the leading countries in that respect… and the summer limiting the spread of the disease, we can have a semi-normal summer,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We are in very preliminary discussions in expressing the plans for the Government and our plans as well on how this could work.”

Greece does not want to limit visitors to people who have been vaccinated, he added, but for people who have had the jab, he said: “We could recognise they have chosen to get vaccinated so there is no need to test them again and again.”

Sounding confident about a “vaccine passport” system being agreed, he said that in Greece the certificates were digital with three layers of security and were harder to forge than PCR test result documents.

“The vaccination certificates are issued by governments, by single authorities, not by various labs in various countries, so again it’s a step forward, that is why we are starting these discussions early in order to be able to solve any technical issues.”

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The Government has imposed a ban on people going on holiday and quarantine hotel restrictions for people coming to the UK from 33 “red list countries”. All travellers to the UK are also required to take two coronavirus tests while quarantining, whether at home or in a hotel.

If this system is still in place in the summer it could cost a family of four £1,000 to pay for tests before departing for a foreign holiday, and then two more each on their return.

Mr Theoharis expressed less concern about new variants than that voiced by British ministers, calling the situation “not that worrisome”.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We continue to look at new technology and evidence as it emerges, assessing whether or not it could be applicable to international travel. This includes exploring these issues with our international counterparts.”



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