Israel, Greece sign travel deal for vaccinated citizens

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 09 2021 07:27 AM

Israel, Greece sign travel deal for vaccinated citizens 1
Photo by Daria Volkova on Unsplash

JERUSALEM - Israel and Greece agreed a tourism deal Monday that will allow coronavirus-vaccinated citizens of the two countries to travel between them without limitations, once flights resume.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the agreement "will allow us... to be able to offer Israeli tourists the opportunity to spend their holidays in Greece without any restrictions" at a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

This would go into effect once "a significant percentage of the population is vaccinated" and travel restrictions are lifted, Mitsotakis said.

"I hope to be able to welcome Israeli tourists as soon as possible to Greece."

Israel has vaccinated more than 3.5 million of its nine million-strong population -- of which more than two million have received two doses -- since mid-December, in what is widely described as the world's fastest vaccination campaign per capita.

Greece had carried out fewer than 360,000 vaccinations in the country of 11 million as of the end of last week and restrictions relaxed over Christmas were reimposed on Friday as part of an ongoing lockdown, amid an upsurge in infections in recent weeks.

Netanyahu said the two premiers discussed a "green passport" vaccine certificate arrangement that will allow Israeli tourists "to go to Greece without any limitations. No self-isolation. Nothing", when flight restrictions are lifted.

Israeli Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen, who signed the agreement with her Greek counterpart, called on tourists from Greece to visit Israel. 

"I want to take this opportunity to encourage Greek people, and everyone else: make Israel your post-Covid destination," she said.

Israel on Sunday began easing its third coronavirus lockdown imposed since December, when the country saw a rise in Covid-19 infections, though it did not lift restrictions on international flights, which remain suspended until February 20. 

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A man carries shopping bags inside a market, as Israel tightens a national lockdown in a bid to curb a sharp rise in new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Jerusalem on January 8, 2021. Ronen Zvulun, Reuters/File Photo

The Jewish state has recorded around 696,000 cases and 5,171 deaths from the Covid-19 illness.

The visit was the second to Israel by Mitsotakis since the start of the coronavirus crisis, as Greece and Israel have worked to develop relations across tourism, defense and energy. 

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