Greece is looking beyond its current COVID-19 lockdowns and ahead to summer, when it plans to welcome fully vaccinated tourists and other foreign visitors with coronavirus antibodies or negative test results.
The country hopes to officially roll out its welcome mat on May 14, Reuters reported. That’s just a few days before May 17, the earliest date at which the U.K. said it may allow residents to resume international travel.
Behind Germany, the U.K. is the number-two source of tourism to Greece, a country where one in every five jobs is linked to tourism, according to Reuters. Prior to the pandemic, the nation, including its islands and historical attractions like the Acropolis, saw more than 30 million international visitors annually.
This year, Greece hopes to reach 50% of that number, The Guardian reported.
In line with its effort to restart tourism, Greece will begin vaccinating tourism workers once it has completed the elderly and medically vulnerable populations. Vaccination rates are expected to ramp up in April, when large shipments of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer are scheduled.
COVID-19 cases have been rising in Greece — on Tuesday, more than 3,100 new cases were reported, making it the third-highest daily tally since the pandemic began a year ago, according to the Greek Reporter. As a result, officials have extended the lockdown in Athens until at least March 16, saying its healthcare system is struggling to keep up with the pandemic, Reuters reported.