Germany on Friday declared the entirety of the nation of Greece a “coronavirus risk area,” signifying that all returning German nationals must present a negative coronavirus test to avoid being quarantined upon arrival.
According to a statement from the Robert Koch Institute today, Greece, as well as the Netherlands now present a heightened risk for German travelers.
There has been a relatively sluggish start to the tourism season in Greece as the nation, despite a robust vaccination effort aimed at the islands, struggled to attract British, American and German travelers, who typically comprise a large sector of tourists to the country.
Germany declares Greece Coronavirus Risk Area
On Monday, in response the Greek government ordered the mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers and nursing home staff following repeated spikes in the number of new coronavirus infections in the middle of the tourism season, on which the nation is so economically dependent.
Greece reported a total of 2,794 new infections on Thursday, after the numbers had broken through the 3,000 mark earlier in the week, equaling the numbers seen at the high of the pandemic.
This brought the total number of coronavirus infections in Greece since the start of the pandemic to 450,512, including all those who have recovered from the disease. The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the country have now reached 12,819.
Germany, which has a population of more than 83 million, has recorded a total of 1,456 new infections, which brings the country’s total cases to 3,741,781, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
Germany’s death toll has now risen by 18 to 91,337.
In early May, Germany had sent a positive message to Greece as its citizens began to make plans to travel to their favorite haunts in the Greek islands, ruling that there would be no quarantine required upon their return to Germany.
Germans comprise the single largest market for tourism to Greece. Arrivals in the record-breaking year of 2019 were over 4 million, and revenue from those of that nationality added up to 2.96 billion euros. In 2020, despite the pandemic, Greece still received 1.526 million German tourists, who spent €1.13 billion while here.
With the opening of the tourism sector in Greece, German tourists began flooding into the country — although not in the numbers that are seen in normal times.
Europe is seeing a steep rise in the number of coronavirus infections now as the Delta variant makes its way across the world this Summer.
Europe to see further spike in August — ECDC
In an announcement on Friday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said it predicted that there would be a total of 420 cases per 100,000 for the week ending August 1.
This worrying figure compares to an infection rate of just under 90 per 100,000 Europeans last week.
Meanwhile, however, United States President Joe Biden said that health experts there are reviewing when the US can lift its own travel restrictions that still bar most-non citizens from coming into the country from most European nations.
In remarks to reporters during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Biden stated that he hopes to be able to announce “in the next several days” when normal travel between the US and most Europe will resume after the pandemic-related restrictions are lifted.
“I’m waiting to hear from our folks in our COVID team, as to when that should be done,” he said.
Merkel added that the determination “has to be a sustainable decision. It is certainly not sensible to have to take it back after only a few days.”
The United States has long been urged to lift the restrictions that effectively ban most non-US citizens who have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil from entering US territory.
Inexplicably, nations belonging to the Schengen Zone still face more stringent requirements than others in parts of the world that are experiencing worse coronavirus spikes.
While the longest land border in the world — between the US and Canada — remains closed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expects to allow fully-vaccinated Americans to enter Canada for nonessential travel starting in mid-August. The reopening was pushed back recently from an initial date of July 21.
Trudeau added that his nation may begin to allow fully vaccinated travelers from across the world soon after that point.
A transcript of his call with leaders of Canadian provinces said “He noted the ongoing discussions with the United States on reopening plans, and indicated that we could expect to start allowing fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel.
“Canada would be in a position to welcome fully vaccinated travelers from all countries by early September.”