By Vatican News
Monday saw the reopening of ferry services to Greek islands, three weeks earlier than planned.
Since a lockdown was imposed in late March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, travel to the islands has been highly limited, with access being granted only to permanent residents and suppliers of goods.
However, the country’s low infection rate prompted the government to reopen the islands, along with bars and restaurants, on 25 May instead of 15 June, in an attempt to salvage Greece’s tourism industry.
Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy. According to government data, over 34 million visitors travelled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros.
Greece has had a much lower infection rate compared to other Mediterranean countries. It has seen nearly 2,900 infections and 171 deaths from the virus. Meanwhile, almost 33,000 deaths have been recorded in Italy, nearly 29,000 in Spain and 4,340 in Turkey, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
State-run health services to combat the coronavirus are being extended to the islands, with intensive care units being placed on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos and Corfu, in addition to existing ICU facilities on the island of Crete.
Social distancing regulations and passenger limits to ward off new infections have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants.