Greek authorities have decided to accept 10,000 vaccinated Israeli tourists per week
as part of its “Green Pass” initiative, allowing vaccinated individuals into the country as a way to kick off the Greek tourism season this Spring.
All the Israelis who will be allowed to visit Greece must show a certificate — an idea which was spearheaded by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in January — showing they have received vaccinations, have tested negative, or have antibodies against, the coronavirus.
49% of Israelis are fully vaccinated
Israel has rolled out a vaccination campaign that is second to none in the world. Currently, 5.2 million Israelis have become inoculated with the vaccines, with 55.% receiving their first dose and a whopping 49% having undergone their second dose.
The European Union, with very few of its citizens fully inoculated, is lagging far behind most of the rest of the western word in the pace of its inoculations but it also is expecting to implement a similar system as the Green Pass.
4.4 % of Greeks are fully covered by inoculations
In contrast to the lightning speed of the Israeli rollout, the highest-ranked nation of the EU regarding the rate of citizens with full vaccine protection is Serbia, with 12%; Greece has now fully inoculated only 4.4% of its citizens and just a paltry 1% of Bulgarians are now fully protected by vaccination.
For comparison, 82.8 million Americans have now received at least one shot of the vaccines, with 44.9 million now fully vaccinated, representing 25% of the population. A total of 2.49 million Americans are receiving inoculations every day, although US President Joe Biden has suggested that it is possible that total could be pushed to 5 million per day.
The Greek government reopened their ancient archaeological sites nationwide after a draconian four-month-long lockdown as it prepares to restart the tourism season on the fifteenth of May.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the Green Pass system will be utilized by as many as 10,000 Israelis per week when Greece finally opens its doors to tourists. The system should start as of Thursday.
Skies to open soon to tourism, thanks to Green Pass
Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis informed Yossi Amrani, the Israeli Ambassador to Athens, on Monday that the council of ministers had approved Israel’s Green Pass, a certificate indicating that its holder is either fully vaccinated for — or recovered from — the coronavirus.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry officials were quoted as saying in press reports that “The decision of the Greek government is the result of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ effort, together with the Ministry of Health and Transportation and discussions led by Foreign Minister (Gabi) Ashkenazi with our partners in the international community, to promote mutual recognition of a vaccine certificate and open the skies to Israeli tourism.”
Greatly-strengthened ties between Greece and Israel
Greece and Israel have greatly strengthened their already very cordial ties in the last several years, with accords in the areas of energy, the military and tourism showing that they greatly value the collaboration they share in many spheres.
Although Israel had received plaudits worldwide for its vaccine rollout, with the number of infections plummeting, some citizens there may still be leery of travel since coronavirus variants are still rampant throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
One of the reasons that Israel has had such a successful campaign against the coronavirus is that it closed both land and air gateways for the most part on January 25. This unfortunately left thousands of individuals unable to return to the country — but it did tamp down the number of variants that are in the population.
Israel remains largely closed to non-citizens at the present time.
Other countries will also accept Israeli tourists with Green Passes
The country’s own domestic Green Pass, however, allows those who have been inoculated or recovered from the virus to take part in indoor dining, gymnasium sports and indoor entertainment.
The pact with Greece has been under discussion for a short while.
The nations of Russia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Thailand and several other countries are also expected to allow in vaccinated Israelis, according to Israeli press reports.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly previously discussed using the “green passport” system as a way to allow for international travel with other leaders as well, including Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban.
Israeli Army Radio reported recently that Israel was also in talks with with the UK to establish a system to allow vaccinated tourists to travel between the countries.