Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas emphasised that Greece’s “primary concern is the safety and health of all,” during a press briefing on Thursday.
He stressed that a decisive step has been taken to reopen Greece to tourism. “We are continuing preparations in order to ensure the maximum possible protection of the health of the sector’s employees, the residents in tourist destinations and, of course, our visitors,” he said.
Petsas emphasised that vigilance cannot be relaxed, especially in transport and in businesses that serve food and drinks, and others where health and hygiene are a priority.
“We cannot focus only on possible imported cases and be indifferent to the necessary protection measures, especially the correct use of a mask in places where there is congestion, for example on the ship that takes us to our favourite island. Let’s say yes to the observance of the measures recommended by the experts. Let’s just say no to complacency that can quickly destroy what we have won with great difficulty. If we relax, we will pay for it,” he underlined.
Petsas then referred to Mitsotakis’ presence at the general assembly of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises, “in a tourist year that is not the same as last year. It is different. And in which Greece claims a larger share of a clearly smaller pie. And it is up to us to achieve this by putting forward not only the beauty, history and culture of our homeland but also its successful handling of the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic.”
He continued that “the government, together with businesses and tourism workers, is doing everything in its power to lessen the losses in arrivals and receipts from abroad and at the same time strengthen the competitiveness of the tourist package in accommodation and restaurants with tax cuts, such as VAT, and additional liquidity with the financial instruments it has activated.”
The goal, he said, is to “keep the productive fabric of our tourism industry intact so that it can take advantage of a dynamic recovery next season.”
“In the same way that it helped [businesses] restart their activities after the lifting of restrictive measures, the government stands ready to provide further support, either by expanding or by extending the measures already in place. We are doing and will continue to do everything we can to support our economy, [so it is not pushed] beyond its endurance.”
It is recalled that two weeks ago, during a visit to Santorini, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that Greece is ready to welcome tourists this summer with priority to health safety.
“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.