Greece’s Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis on Monday announced government plans to vaccinate 280,000 tourism sector workers against coronavirus as soon as vulnerable people have been vaccinated.
Along with plans to vaccinate all inhabitants of islands with a population under 10,000, this is part of Greece’s roadmap towards safe tourism this summer.
Tourism worker vaccination schedule depends on distribution timeline
Theocharis outlined the plan for tourism worker vaccinations in Parliament on Monday. He highlighted that vulnerable people would continue to be prioritized, but that tourism workers would be next to be vaccinated.
Tourism workers’ vaccinations depend on how quickly the vulnerable people in their areas are inoculated. Theocharis stressed that there will also be self-tests available for tourism workers while they await their coronavirus vaccinations.
Once the vaccination of tourism workers begins, it will be a relatively quick three-week process.
Greece’s Tourism Minister: “The whole country is safe”
Part of the plan for summer tourism is to project the message that the whole country is safe for tourists. Theocharis warned against promoting specific areas or islands as “Covid-free,” as he claims this is not a sound tourism strategy.
Tourism could be threatened for several reasons if the narrative of a “Covid-free” area is pushed, Theoharis reasons. The government’s solution is to promote the whole country as being safe for tourists to arrive this summer.
However, there are certain islands that the government is planning on fully vaccinating before the tourism season, with every single adult resident inoculated. A total of eighty-five islands with populations under 10,000 will see all of their residents fully vaccinated as part of “Operation Freedom.”
These islands traditionally lure tourists from all over the world to Greece, and the campaign is an important effort to bolster one of the most important economic sectors in Greece.
The intake of vaccine doses to Greece in May and June from both Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer had been planned to contribute significantly to the implementation of this ambitious rollout but the EU has now paused the distribution of the J & J product due to health concerns.
The US drug regulatory authority FDA and the EU’s European Medicines Agency have both paused their use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further testing and research by the FDA can affirm the safety of the inoculation.
So far, after a total of almost seven million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, six instances of thrombosis and one death have been reported as being associated with the inoculation.
Reports say that the number of vaccine doses to be received in Greece from Pfizer/BioNTech alone will add up to 1,500,000 for the next two months.
Some of these doses will be earmarked for tourism workers to make sure visitors have a safe and memorable summer in Greece.