According to all the signs, the holidays in Greece for Greek-Australians will become a pipe dream.
The country has managed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic by taking very strict measures that do not allow complacency, as the President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, Vassilis Papastergiadis, tells iefimerida.
“Now we can circulate normally, hug each other and go to events with thousands of people. However, the Australian government recently announced it would probably ban its citizens from leaving the country. The intention of the government is to keep the borders closed until the middle of 2022, that is, for at least another year,” said Papastergiadis, who mentioned the deep disappointment of the Greeks who live there.
“I have received many calls from Greek-Australians who tell me that they do not understand why they cannot travel to Greece if they are vaccinated. They feel the great need to meet again their beloved relatives and friends with whom they communicate only by phone since the outbreak of the pandemic.”
Impact on tourism
As Papastergiadis explained, the initial decision of the government to vaccinate the citizens with Astra Zeneca significantly delayed the vaccination process as then the issue of thrombosis arose and it was decided to limit it to those over 50. Apart from the fact that Greek-Australians cannot visit their beloved ones, there will also be consequences for tourism as Greece is an important tourist attraction for Australia.
“Australia’s decision to close its borders is disastrous for all Greek-Australians since most of us have to visit Greece from 2019.
Similarly, it will have disastrous consequences in Greece as there are over 700,000 Greeks in Australia and according to Greek National Tourism Organisation’s statistics, Greek-Australians spend the most per capita money worldwide when they visit Greece and stay for the longest period.
Quarantine with a tracker waistband
Vassilis Papastergiadis stressed that a solution must be found so that people can travel to safe countries, especially when they have been vaccinated.
“I will meet with the Australian health minister soon to discuss this issue and explain the need for an alternative to closing the border, at least for those who have been vaccinated.
Perhaps one solution would be to allow exceptionally vaccinated Australians to travel to Greece and on their return, not be required to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel, as is currently the case, but be allowed to quarantine at home with a tracker waistband as has been the case in Singapore.
“This waistband monitors people if they leave their home during the 14 days.” As pointed out by
Papastergiadis, Australia has dealt with the pandemic crisis with great success, but there are growing voices for more benefits for vaccinated citizens.