Athens says Covid vaccine certificates can substitute for antigen tests as Greece starts talks with UK about summer holiday plans

The Greek tourism minister has said he is hopeful that “we can have a semi-normal summer” as he confirmed that negotiations had kicked off with his UK colleagues to allow holiday travel to return safely between the two nations.

“We don’t want to limit travel to those who have been vaccinated of course,” Haris Theoharis, the Greek tourism minister, told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, but said vaccination certificates could be useful in order to reduce the need for antigen testing.  

“Since we are mandating that before traveling someone has to have a negative test result, this is a waste of resources if people are vaccinated, to be tested every time they travel, the need for this testing could be limited by the vaccination certificate,” Theoharis stated. 

“Of course, we cannot set things in stone yet, it’s a dynamic situation,” he added, noting that the point of these “technical discussions” with UK counterparts was to see what was feasible.  

Theoharis commended the UK as a “leading country” when it came to vaccinations and said that boded well for the summer. 

Greece has already signed an agreement with Israel to allow vaccinated people to move freely between the two countries. Such accords are important for the Greek economy which is heavily reliant on tourism revenues. 

Theoharis’s remarks come as Britons receive mixed messages on summer holiday plans. UK PM Boris Johnson has previously said it is “too early for people to be certain about what we will be able to do this summer.”