Alexa

Greece reopens island ferries, cafes in tourism restart

Children gather in front of a Greek Orthodox church on the Aegean Sea island of Milos, Greece, on Sunday, May 24, 2020. Greece's long-awaited tourist ...
A man closes an umbrella as another one cleans the sand in front of small houses, some of them are used for summer accommodation, on the Aegean Sea is...
A boy dives into the sea from an old dock on the Aegean Sea island of Milos, Greece, Sunday, May 24, 2020. Greece's long-awaited tourist season will b...
A woman mops the floor of a tavern being prepared for reopening, in Athens, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Restaurants and cafes are allowed to reopen on Mon...
People gather near Pnyx as at the background stands the ancient Acropolis hill, with the ruins of the fifth century BC Parthenon temple in Athens, Sun...
A man carries chairs at an exterior area of a coffee shop being prepared for reopening, in Athens, on Saturday, May 23, 2020. Restaurants and cafes ar...
Employees clean the exterior of a coffee shop as they prepare for reopening, in Athens, on Saturday, May 23, 2020. Restaurants and cafes are allowed t...
A turtle passes in front of the ancient Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Greece has entered the third phase of easing lockd...
A worker places chairs at a fish restaurant ahead of its reopening in Piraeus, near Athens, Wednesday, May 20, 2020.Next Monday, bars, cafes and resta...
A company dining next to the sea during a warm day in Piraeus, near Athens on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Public beaches were reopened last weekend amid ...
A man trains on a lighting column during a warm day in Piraeus, near Athens, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Public beaches were reopened last weekend amid h...

Children gather in front of a Greek Orthodox church on the Aegean Sea island of Milos, Greece, on Sunday, May 24, 2020. Greece's long-awaited tourist ...

A man closes an umbrella as another one cleans the sand in front of small houses, some of them are used for summer accommodation, on the Aegean Sea is...

A boy dives into the sea from an old dock on the Aegean Sea island of Milos, Greece, Sunday, May 24, 2020. Greece's long-awaited tourist season will b...

A woman mops the floor of a tavern being prepared for reopening, in Athens, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Restaurants and cafes are allowed to reopen on Mon...

People gather near Pnyx as at the background stands the ancient Acropolis hill, with the ruins of the fifth century BC Parthenon temple in Athens, Sun...

A man carries chairs at an exterior area of a coffee shop being prepared for reopening, in Athens, on Saturday, May 23, 2020. Restaurants and cafes ar...

Employees clean the exterior of a coffee shop as they prepare for reopening, in Athens, on Saturday, May 23, 2020. Restaurants and cafes are allowed t...

A turtle passes in front of the ancient Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Greece has entered the third phase of easing lockd...

A worker places chairs at a fish restaurant ahead of its reopening in Piraeus, near Athens, Wednesday, May 20, 2020.Next Monday, bars, cafes and resta...

A company dining next to the sea during a warm day in Piraeus, near Athens on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Public beaches were reopened last weekend amid ...

A man trains on a lighting column during a warm day in Piraeus, near Athens, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Public beaches were reopened last weekend amid h...

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece restarted regular ferry services to its islands Monday and cafes and restaurants were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season.

Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown was imposed in late March to halt the spread of the coronvirus, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents allowed access.

But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the government to start the holiday season three weeks earlier than the expected June 15 date, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain and Turkey — are grappling with deadlier virus outbreaks.

Greece has had nearly 2,900 infections and 171 deaths from the virus. Italy has seen nearly 33,000 coronavirus patients die, Spain has had nearly 29,000 dead and Turkey has had 4,340 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Social distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants to ward off new infections.

State-run health services to combat the coronavirus are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care units being placed on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos and Corfu, along with existing ICU facilities on the island of Crete.

Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, directly contributing more than 10% of the country's GDP. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros ($19.5 billion), according to government data.

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak


Updated : 2020-12-05 10:17 GMT+08:00