BRITISH tourists who have been vaccinated may be welcomed back to Greece this summer without having to have negative coronavirus tests.
The country joins Spain in offering hope for UK tourists returning by the summer with fewer travel restrictions if they have had the jab.
Greece Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis told BBC’s Today programme that he was hopeful it would be a “normal summer” for vaccinated travellers.
He said: “Technical discussions [with the UK] are underway to see if that’s going to be feasible. I am very hopeful we can reach some kind of solution.
“We don’t want to limit travel to those who have been vaccinated of course, but since we are mandating that before travelling someone has to have a negative test result, this is a waste of resources if people are vaccinated, to be tested every time they travel, the need for this testing could be limited by the vaccination certificate.”
He also said that the UK’s leading vaccination programme was a factor, with it being one of the best in the world which could lead to a “much, much better” summer.
The UK has vaccinated more than 15m people with the first jab, hitting the target set for mid-February.
The next target is to have all over 50s, carers and Brits with underlying health conditions vaccinated by April, hitting 30m people.
The government also has targets to have the entire country vaccinated by August.
The Greek Prime Minister also discussed vaccinated travellers returning when discussing hopes for holidaymakers coming to Greece this summer.
Speaking on television, he said: “A vaccine certificate would allow you to enter Greece without being forced to provide a negative test and without any quarantine restrictions and we do intend to go down that path.
“For those who have not been vaccinated the most likely scenario is that we will request some sort of negative test, we want to make it as easy as possible for them to travel to Greece.”
Greece’s coronavirus cases are also much lower than other parts of Europe – the country has just 174,000 cases, and 6,194 deaths.
However, the UK government has been quick to quash any plans of summer holidays abroad.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned last week that holidays may not be able to go ahead at all this year, or until everyone in the UK is vaccinated, explaining: “I’m afraid I can’t give you a definitive, will there or will there not be the opportunity to take holidays this next year either at home or abroad.”
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Matt Hancock has previously spoken about how he has booked a family holiday in Cornwall for later this year instead and has touted a “Great British summer”.
Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, has suggested that the more elaborate people’s holiday plans were, the more likely they were to get cancelled.
Speaking at Downing Street earlier this month, he said: “The more elaborate your plans are for summer holidays, in terms of crossing borders, in terms of house mixing, given where we are now, I think you just have to say, you’re stepping into making guesses about the unknown.
“We just don’t have the data, it’s just too early.”