Coronavirus: Greece wants to open up 'travel bubble' with Australia

Nadine Carroll

Australians keen to travel internationally again may soon be able to add Greece to their list after the tourism minister invited visitors from Down Under to the country from June 15.

The Greek government has listed 29 countries from where it will accept visitors as it tries to recover from the financial damage created during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our aim is to be able to welcome every tourist who has overcome their fear and has the ability to travel to our country," Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said on local TV news outlet Antenna.

A Public Health Organisation doctor speaks with volunteers after residents were tested for coronavirus.
A doctor of the Public Health Organisation (EODY) speaks with volunteers after she has tested residents for the new coronavirus in Greece. Source: AAP

The 29 countries included in the proposed ‘bubble’ include:

  • Albania

  • Australia

  • Austria

  • North Macedonia

  • Bulgaria

  • Germany

  • Denmark

  • Switzerland

  • Estonia

  • Japan

  • Israel

  • China

  • Croatia

  • Cyprus

  • Latvia

  • Lebanon

  • New Zealand

  • Lithuania

  • Malta

  • Montenegro

  • Norway

  • South Korea

  • Hungary

  • Romania

  • Serbia

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Czech Republic

  • Finland

The Qantas departures terminal at Melbourne International Airport. Greece wants Australia to join its 'travel bubble'.
The Qantas departures terminal at Melbourne International Airport. Source: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tourists from other countries may be allowed to enter Greece as the list increases from July.

Visitors arriving from those countries could be subject to COVID-19 testing, the ministry said.

Greece has credited its low infection rate to enforcing an early lockdown and, as a result, the country has has a total of 175 deaths and just over 2900 confirmed cases.

A small group of beachgoers at Platis Gialos Beach, Mykonos.
Platis Gialos Beach remains nearly empty at the beginning of the delayed tourist season in Mykonos, Greece. Source: Byron Smith/Getty Images

There have been no confirmed cases on the vast majority of the popular holiday destination of the Greek islands.

While the country may be opening its doors, it will come at a cost of strict protocols in place to keep locals and visitors safe.

"We are opening up, but at the same time we are closely monitoring the situation. Strict health protocols will protect both staff and tourists," Mr Theoharis said.

An employee of the Greek Culture ministry walks alongside a retractable belt separating visitors at the archaeological site of the Acropolis.
Greece will allow international flights to Athens starting June 15 from 29 countries, with other tourist destinations to follow July 1. Source: Getty

Tourists to Greece will see capacity limits enforced in hotels and resorts, as well as each hotel having a designated doctor.

There will also be close consultations with the Health Ministry to improve treatment facilities at regional hospitals, including those on islands.

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