Coronavirus: Irish Hoping to Holiday in Greece from June

Britsincrete attention was drawn to the rsvplive online publication headline: "Irish tourists can return to Greece for summer holiday as soon as June 1". 

Having fun canoeing and sailing
off Aghios Nikolaos town, Crete
Photo: geraldbrown

rsvplive hopes their countrymen will be some of the earliest groups of holidaymakers to Greece this tourist season.  With the European Commission indicating on May 13, 2020 that some travel within the EU may be lifted from mid-June, the signs are good for the Greece holiday season to open up from that period.

Weather is Good Already

It so happens that chatter in our local Crete coffee shop (kafeneio) has been the sudden summer like weather of the last couple of days. Two days ago, I recorded 41C mid afternoon in my courtyard and yesterday, 35C. This scorching burst of heat is caused by Sahara weather from the southern winds, with clear blue skies. Typical of April/May, these bouts of excessive warmth creep up on us but usually accompanied by rain that brings a covering of fine Sahara sand dust on exposed surfaces. But not this time with clear blue skies morning to evening.

This all bodes well for opening up the Greek tourism industry from June 15 to select visitors if the EU bosses are convinced it is safe. Even so, rsvplive online  is quoting the Greek tourism minister, Harry Theoharis in a BBC Radio interview (April 29, 2020) that they (the Greeks) would be prepared to make a decision alone, in order to "open up our economic activity as soon as possible and in a health-wise manner.”

Beachside relaxation in the centre of Aghios Nikolaos
Photo: geraldbrown  
There are a number of caveats to opening up. Assuming that movement around Greece for local Greeks will be eased from June 1, 2020,  especially between the mainland and the islands, then should we assume that the Irish along with other EU countries’ nationals can look to holidays in Greece from say, June 15, 2020. Originally, the Greek Government was working on the assumption of a July to September tourist season.

A lot has to happen bureaucratically, it would seem. As I write this (May 14) and based on the island of Crete, I can only travel within my prefecture, which is Lassithi. From next Monday (May 18), I will be able to spread my wings and travel to the next prefecture (Heraklion) and the rest of Crete if need be. The next milestone is to be able to travel between the Greek mainland the Greek islands. Mind you it takes up to four hours to drive to beyond Chania in the west, so there are plenty of places to visit in the meantime. This is a far cry from the lengthy home quarantine that ended on May 4 when we needed a paper to even go out to walk the dog, to shop essentials, visit pharmacies, doctors and hospitals etc.

Staying in Greece, we were very fortunate that the Athens government acted early with prevention measure to stop the spread of the “China virus”. Even though this took away our rights and liberties. The bottom line is that Greece has just 2,800 cases and 152 deaths. This is one of the better, if regrettable statistics for any country in Europe and the wider developed world. And so, if the European Commission does not put a damper on the situation, Greece could be welcoming Irish visitors from around June 15th.

1. It is worth noting that both Portugal and Spain are encouraging Irish visitors to their tourist hotspots too.
2. An indicator of how much the Irish spend on holidays, quoting tourist industry sources for 2019 in  an RTE article. The average cost of a holiday per person is €550. The average cost of a holiday for a family of four normally comes to just under €2,000 - that includes flights and accommodation.
3. It was as recently as May 2nd, 2020 that Ireland's Minister for Health, Simon Harris said it is "not looking good" for foreign travel this year according to RTE.