Greece is on the eve of a new shutdown following a spike in cases of tourist coronavirus.
Public health officials in Greece today again reported an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, most of which are tourist related.
The Department of Health said 60 new confirmed cases had been registered in the last 24-hour reporting period, 40 from inbound travelers.
It was the highest daily total since late April and brought the total number of confirmed infections to 3,732. No new deaths were reported and the death toll in the pandemic in Greece remained at 193.
The news comes shortly after British tourists were advised by a group of the world’s leading travel agencies to wear face masks abroad at all times.
A public health worker collects a boy smear to test for COVID-19, the new coronavirus, at the Greek-Bulgarian border crossing in Promachonas on July 10, 2020
Cars wait in line while queuing at the Greek-Bulgarian border crossing in Promachonas on July 10, 2020. – The Greek authorities on July 9, 2020 expressed concerns about the increase in Covid-19 cases in the neighboring Balkans what the risk of ‘imported cases’ due to the arrival in Greece of tourists across land borders
Tourists arrive at Nikos Kazatzakis International Airport in Heraklion, Crete, Greece on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
The increase in the number of cases prompted the Greek authorities to announce stricter border controls for tourists on Friday and to carry out inspections more often at companies where crowds are likely to increase.
Greece said on Friday that it would require travelers to cross the land border with Bulgaria to prove that they have tested negative for coronavirus as cases have increased elsewhere in the Balkans.
Greece’s only border crossing currently open to tourists is Bulgaria, and is crossed daily by thousands of mainly Balkan travelers.
“Anyone entering from July 14 for nonessential reasons … is required to show a negative (nasal swab) test result up to 72 hours before entry,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.
The move came after Bulgaria registered a daily record of 240 new infections on Thursday.
Romania also reported the largest daily increase on Thursday since the pandemic started in 614 cases.
In Serbia, where there have been violent protests against the government’s response to the pandemic, infections have also increased in recent weeks.
The Greek authorities are already dealing with several confirmed virus cases in holiday areas after reopening the regional airports for international flights on July 1.
In the spa town of Edipsos on Evia Island, nearly 90 Serbian tourists were tested this week after a few vacations in the area were found to be contaminated.
The news comes shortly after British tourists were advised by a group of the world’s leading travel agencies to wear face masks abroad at all times. Pictured: a woman with a face mask is standing in front of the Acropolis in Athens
“Relaxing (lockdown) measures have sparked a revival in the first wave,” Athanassios Tsakris, head of the microbiology department at the University of Athens Medical School, told Skai TV.
“It is possible that (in cases) we will see a further rise,” he said.
Meanwhile, British holidaymakers have been urged by a coalition of the world’s largest travel organizations to wear masks while traveling, in hotels and even on beaches.
As part of a ‘new normal’ for vacations, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) urges tourists to almost always wear masks wherever they are to avoid a second wave of coronavirus.
Tourists should even have face coverage by the pool and on beaches where they can’t keep a two-meter distance between their fellow sun worshipers, the council says.
Airports, hotels, night clubs, museums, gyms, and all other “ indoor locations, ” including cruise ship public areas, should also have mandatory mask-wearing rules until a vaccine is found, it recommends.
The grim new guidelines come as thousands of British fly away today – the first day of the government’s itinerary.
The WTTC is concerned that different rules for coronavirus around the world can cause confusion for holidaymakers, while travel and tourism workers are at risk of infection.
The advice is important because the WTTC includes some of the biggest travel names, including Hilton, Marriott, Tui, Expedia, Carnival Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Amex Global Travel and Google.
The organization said its recommendations had been informed by Harvard University medical experts.
As of today, English holidaymakers are allowed to visit 59 countries and 14 British territories without having to enter a two-week quarantine upon return.