Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that Greece is ready to welcome tourists this summer with priority to health safety.
His comments were made during a visit to Santorini, where he was accompanied by Culture & Sports Minister Lina Mendoni.
Mendoni gave Mitsotakis a tour of the Akrotiri archeological site, one of the most important archaeological sites on the island. The findings show Akrotiri was one of the most important ancient settlements in the Aegean Sea during the prehistoric period, later becoming a key trade port during the Bronze Age.
“We will open all museums on June 15,” said the Prime Minister, “and we will be ready to welcome visitors and tourists who come to Santorini not only for its stunning scenery and famous sunsets, but also for its unique archeological treasures.”
He noted that all infrastructures are set up so as to ensure that the correct social distancing can be observed everywhere, according to health experts’ instructions, “so that our tourists feel safe,” and underlined that “we want to protect their own health as well as the health of workers here.”
Mendoni stressed that all the archeological sites and museums in the country operate on the basis of ‘health safety above all’, which is one of Greece’s central maxims during this summer’s tourism campaign.
Prior to visiting Akrotiri, Mitsotakis was welcomed by Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias to Santorini’s Thera General Hospital, where he was briefed on the hospital’s readiness to deal with any potential coronavirus cases and also its preparedness to carry out diagnostic tests.
At Thera general hospital the Greek PM also discussed the government’s efforts to remove any legal hurdles that prevent the uninterrupted air transfer of any type of patients from Santorini to off-island health facilities.
To this effect and beyond it, Mitsotakis said that “we have a critical summer ahead of us and our intention is to welcome visitors without making any discounts on safety and security, for both the local population and the workers in the National Health System.”
Special medical housing units have been placed in the surrounding grounds at Thera General Hospital, while on Friday a Covid-19 molecular diagnosis expert was installed at the hospital so that sending samples to the Hellenic Pasteur Institute (HPI) in Athens may not be required.
“When the summer tourist season comes full circle,” said Mitsotakis, “we will be able to say that we did not just manage the first wave of the pandemic in an exemplary way, but that we also set the bar very high on how we can reopen tourism safely – above all else,” he exclaimed.
When asked if opening the country to visitors might jeopardise the government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Mitsotakis said that “there is no risk-free approach…we are doing the best we can” and emphasised that the economy will operate under “very robust guidelines” enforcing social distancing and other measures, such as mandatory wearing of masks in transport as well as by all catering personnel.
“I believe the worst (of the pandemic) is over and I don’t think a full lockdown will be necessary…in case of a localised outbreak, we have the medical and civil protection infrastructure in place to tackle it safely and efficiently,” Mitsotakis said.
Greece has so far had 3,112 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 183 fatalities.
Greece’s borders will be “open” from June 15th, with flights permitted to land in Athens and Thessaloniki.
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