COVID passports allowing Britons to travel abroad this summer are “forthcoming”, the Greek government has said.
Many foreign holiday destinations will require visitors to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide proof of a recent negative test before entering the country.
Coronavirus passports, also known as health certificates, would allow holidaymakers to meet this requirement.
The Times reports Harry Theoharis, the Greek tourism minister, saying that his country is ready to welcome back British tourists who have been twice vaccinated and the handwritten NHS card – which shows the person’s name, the vaccine they have been given and the dates they were vaccinated – would be sufficient proof of inoculation.
However, a spokesperson for Mr Theoharis has told Sky News only official documentation would be acceptable – and that the Greek government’s understanding is that a UK health certificate will become available.
They said: “We accept only official documents issued by the competent British authorities that prove the vaccination particulars.
“If someone has documents that are not issued by anyone, we mandate a negative test.
“Our understanding is that a health pass will be forthcoming.”
Tourism is a key industry for the Greek economy, and a slump in travel receipts, coupled with the impact of domestic lockdown measures, has helped push the country into recession.
Greece has said its tourism services will reopen on 15 May when a ban on travel between different regions of the country will also be lifted.
Under the UK government’s roadmap for easing restrictions, foreign holidays for people living in England could be allowed as early as 17 May.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman confirmed last week that ministers are “working on a solution to enable residents to prove their COVID-19 status, including vaccination status, to other countries on the outbound leg”.
“We are working on this as a priority and intend to have the solution ready as soon as possible,” she added.
Coronavirus passports would initially only be available for people travelling abroad, and a wider scheme for domestic use is unlikely to be ready by next month, reports suggest.
Greece is not the only country eager to welcome holidaymakers to its shores this summer.
Spain’s tourism minister Fernando Valdes told Sky News last week that it is “ready” to welcome back tourists.
“We also think that the vaccination scheme in the UK is going pretty well, so hopefully we’ll be seeing this summer the restart of holidays,” he said.
He added that certificates enabling holidaymakers to prove they have been vaccinated or recently tested are “going to help us”.
Mr Valdes said Spain is “pushing hard” to persuade the European Commission to reach agreements to reopen travel between “third parties such as the UK” as well as EU member states.
“If we reach these kind of agreements from the month of June, we will be able to have a summer,” he said.
“Probably not as the one we had in 2019, but obviously the restart of tourism again.”
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