Coronavirus: British holidaymakers arriving in Greece will have to quarantine for seven days

Simon Calder
Off limits: Part of the Acropolis in Athens: Simon Calder

The Greek tourism minister has warned that his country’s testing regime for most British visitors “will not be for the masses”.

Harry Theoharis told the BBC’s Today programme that his country is following the standards of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (Easa).

The agency published a list of airports “located in affected areas with high risk of transmission of the Covid-19 infection”.

It includes 13 UK airports, including Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Liverpool, London City, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle and Stansted – but not other key gateways including Belfast, Bristol and Edinburgh.

The Greek government is applying special measures to arrivals from these airports during its so-called “bridge phase” from 15 to 30 June, when the country first re-opens to international tourism.

While most arrivals at Athens and Thessaloniki airports will be subject only to random tests, all passengers from the 13 UK airports will be tested upon arrival.

The Greek foreign ministry warns: “An overnight stay at a designated hotel is required. If the test is negative then the passenger self-quarantines for seven days. If the test is positive, the passenger is quarantined under supervision for 14 days.”

Mr Theoharis said: “It does make for a difficult travelling arrangement.

“There’s an inconvenience in the first few days.

“This is not going to be for the masses, for many people. It has to mean you have more time.”

From 1 July, when international flights are allowed into all airports in Greece, the foreign ministry warns: “Additional restrictions regarding certain countries will be announced at a later date.”

The tourism minister said: “I think the best is for the epidemiological situation to become clearer.

“Thankfully the situation is converging, getting better, slowly but surely.

“We all need [a summer vacation] after this stressful period we’ve gone through.”

Meanwhile the quarantine measures announced by Priti Patel, which come into effect at the UK borders on Monday, have been criticised by a prominent sociologist.

The home secretary told MPs: “These measures are backed by the science, supported by the public, and essential to save lives.”

But Professor Robert Dingwall of Nottingham Trent University, told the Today programme: “We’re not seeing new clusters that are taking off from people who have been travelling abroad.

“We would really need to get the level in this country significantly further down before quarantine started to become a useful measure.

“Even then we’d need to see it targeted on countries with a significantly higher level of community transmission than ourselves. And there aren’t too many of those around, I’m afraid.”

Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, told BBC Breakfast: ”You don’t have a quarantine, people are going to be allowed to come next week through Heathrow and Gatwick, they then get on the London Underground, the trains, the buses, the taxis, to get to their destination.

“In the unlikely event you are actually called by someone from track and tracing, you could be on a golf course, you could be on a beach, you could be in the supermarket, saying ‘yes, I am complying fully, I am sitting at home quarantining’.

“This is a quarantine designed by Dominic Cummings for Dominic Cummings, who as we all know, doesn’t observe quarantine.”

Mr Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser, is widely believed to have instigated the quarantine policy.

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