| 21 May 2024, Tuesday |

Hoping to lure back tourists, Greece reopens beaches after lockdown

Greece reopened its beaches on Saturday with regular disinfections and widely spaced sun loungers, as the popular Mediterranean holiday destination eases coronavirus restrictions in preparation for the return of foreign visitors next week.

Tourism accounts for nearly a fifth of Greece’s jobs and economy, and – after the worst year on record for the industry last year – the country can ill afford another lost summer.

“We’re pinning our hopes on tourism,” said Nikos Venieris, who manages a beach in the seafront suburb of Alimos, just outside Athens, where social distancing measures will remain in force.

Venieris added: “We’re one of the places along the Athens riviera … that receives many tourists so the number of visitors from abroad will play a big role in our finances.”

Beach managers like Venieris will have to space umbrellas at least 4 metres (13 feet) under current measures, carry out regular disinfections and test beach staff for the coronavirus.

Greece fared well in keeping the 1st wave of the pandemic under control last year but a resurgence in COVID-19 infections overwhelmed health services and prompted authorities to impose a second lockdown in November.

As cases have dropped and vaccinations gathered pace, authorities have steadily eased curbs, opening restaurants and bars earlier this week.

They also announced on Friday that museums would reopen next week before the lifting of travel restrictions on inoculated foreign visitors on May 15.

  • Reuters