Greece will recognise Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in its vaccination certificate, making it easier for Russian tourists to travel and spend their summer holidays in Greece.
During a visit in Moscow, Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis assured Russians that Greece’s national vaccination committee includes the Russian vaccine as an equivalent to European vaccines for travel purposes.
“There is, therefore, no issue for Russian citizens who are vaccinated to come without having to undergo a screening procedure and additional tests,” Theocharis said.
The EU Green Pass regulation due to be adopted soon does not recognise vaccines not approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). However, it is flexible enough to allow EU member states to recognise these vaccines, such as Russia’s Sputnik V, on a bilateral level.
Greek politicians recently bickered over the Russian vaccine.
Tsipras, the leader of the main opposition Syriza party (European Left), called on the conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (European People’s Party) to follow the example of other EU member states and order the Sputnik V vaccine.
The Greek prime minister reacted negatively to Tsipras’ suggestion, opposing any purchase negotiation outside of the EU framework. He also added that there are no vaccines available from Russia.
Reacting to EURACTIV’s article, the Russian company tweeted: “Sputnik V confirms that even given requests from 59 other countries, it can supply Greece already in May with vaccine for 500,000 people. Together we are stronger!”.
Tourism is a key element for the Greek economy as it produces one-fifth of the country’s GDP and thousands of seasonal jobs per year. In 2019, for instance, Greece saw a record of about 31.3 million people visit the country.
Tourism workers will be vaccinated right after the vulnerable groups so that they will be ready for the summer season. Moreover, they will frequently be provided with free self-tests until they get vaccinated.
The Greek government has high expectations from the tourist season and is thus taking all available measures to avoid last year’s losses.
Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority has also lifted the mandatory seven-day quarantine for foreign visitors from the EU, the Schengen Area, the US, the UK, Israel, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates, while extending restrictions on domestic and international flights until 26 April.
Visitors from these countries who wish to enter Greece should either carry an authorised certificate that they have completed all vaccination doses at least two weeks before their arrival or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within the last 72 hours before their flight. Every traveller who arrives in Greece, regardless of their certificate, may be required to undergo a random mandatory health check. Greece is expected to be ready to fully open to tourists on 14 May. (Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com, Alexandros Fotiadis | EURACTIV.gr)