With much fanfare and a Santorini sunset TV op, Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared the 2020 tourist season open. As is the norm this year, confusion prevails regarding who can travel and what is happening regarding Covid-19 testing and quarantine. With regulations changing daily and the difficulties the media are having in keeping up to date with the ever-changing landscape, the most reliable source of information on who can travel and what should be happening on arrival is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. This, of course, does not mean that the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health might not have other ideas but it is a good starting point.
The current measures and lists only really apply to the situation from now to 30 June. 1 July is supposed to see a major opening up to broader international travel but this is highly dependent on how things go in Greece in the next two weeks and also what happens in countries like the USA and the UK where the disease figures are still high. Greece is treading a fine line between the tourist revenue it desperately needs and destroying brand Greece’s reputation as a safe destination if the virus starts to arrive in significant numbers from abroad.
Tourists themselves are also faced with an ethical dilemma – do I travel because I want to have my holiday and I put my own pleasure first or do I wait until next year in order to protect the health of my hosts? Many of Symi’s regular visitors, as well as property owners, are discussing this at some length on social media and the general feeling is to stay away until it really is safe to travel, not just because some bureaucrat says so.
Seasonal resort hotels, museums and brothels opened their doors from yesterday. Gyms have also been allowed to reopen. Once again, all sorts of new rules, regulations and protocols apply. The Pedi Beach Hotel has all its umbrellas set up at the new spacings. They had a few Greek guests over the weekend but I didn’t see anyone on my walk this morning, just a lone painter on an extension ladder.
Once again ‘wait and see’ is the motto of the day.
And in other news, temperatures on Symi are now around 30 degrees at midday, dropping to about 20 at night. After a few exceptionally clear days the heat haze is building up and Saharan sand is drifting up over Crete and the mainland, bringing high temperatures with it.
Keep safe everyone.