Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during an interview with CNN on Wednesday that Greece would be prepared for tourism this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As more people get vaccinated, I expect that we will be able to cope with COVID much more effectively,” Mitsotakis told CNN anchor Julia Chatterley. “We are proceeding, I would say, almost ahead of schedule. We are one of the best countries in the EU when it comes to our vaccination pace.”
Mitsotakis’ words come one week after Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis gave an extensive outline of the country’s plans to reopen to the world on May 14 to all visitors who have been vaccinated, have antibodies or have tested negative for COVID-19.
The prime minister’s statement also coincided with an announcement on Wednesday from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said the EU would officially begin its effort to create a joint vaccination passport for its more than 440 million citizens and residents.
Mitsotakis said his administration expects all Greek residents ages 60 and above or with “serious underlying conditions” to have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose by the end of April.
“Once we reach that point, we take a lot of pressure off our hospitals,” he said. “That is the point when we can anticipate a return to normal activities.”
Most parts of Greece remain in strict lockdown as health officials reported 3,465 new cases and 56 deaths on Wednesday. The national seven-day average of cases was 2,047 as of Tuesday.
During the interview, Chatterly pressed Mitsotakis to respond to concerns about lockdown fatigue and criticism of his government’s current virus containment strategy.
“I’m absolutely certain that, had we not taken the steps that we did take a month ago, we would have faced a much more severe crisis now,” he said. “I do expect this wave to plateau within the next week or 10 days and then start coming down.”
Mitsotakis said his administration expects to make further announcements about Greece’s pandemic measures within the next 48 hours.
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