Greece on Monday restarted regular ferry services to the islands, while restaurants and bars were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season, the Associated Press reports.
Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown in late March, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents keeping access.
But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the government to start the holiday season earlier than expected, on June 15, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain, and Turkey — are grappling with more deadly outbreaks.
The Greek Ministry of Tourism announced comprehensive and detailed guidelines that hotels, camping sites, travel agents, and transport companies must observe during the reopening of the tourist season in June, as part of preventative measures for the Covid-19 pandemic
Distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants, while state-run health services to combat new coronavirus cases are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care space being provided on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, and Corfu, along with existing facilities on the island of Crete.
Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, with a direct cash contribution of more than 10%, and broad secondary benefits. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros, according to central data.