It’s the million dollar question as people everywhere ponder whether or not Greek Summer 2020 can be salvaged. And that question is far more intense for millions of hyphenated Greeks from Australia to the United States and everywhere in between— who consider these trips as far more than simple vacations.
“It’s not about the beach,” says Matina Christodoulou, a mother of three from Melbourne, Australia in an interview with The Pappas Post. “For us, it’s about taking my children back to their ancestral roots and re-connecting with their cultural heritage. It’s important to us,” Christodoulou said of her annual pilgrimage.
So far, Greek officials have announced that some hotels will be allowed to open in June, as well as a gradual easing of other restrictions on retail shops over time. The government has been cautious about re-opening the country too soon.
“This is not the epilogue of our adventure but the continuation. Our emergence from quarantine will be done step by step. No one can rule out the risk of the threat rekindling,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during a televised address Tuesday. “A return must not lead to a relapse.”
“We do want people to come to Greece,” Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis said on BBC Radio on Wednesday. “Of course we will take precautions in terms of the requirements before traveling but also in terms of the way that we travel, the way that we stay. Social distancing rules will apply.”
Theocharis didn’t go into details on what precautions would be in place, or whether there’s a time frame in place for summer holidays. He also didn’t mention whether citizens of certain countries would be excluded from visiting Greece or to which countries Greece would open her borders.
Greece’s borders remain closed to citizens of non-EU nations including the United States and Britain as well as of Spain and Italy as part of the lockdown measures.
The government has made no mention of when those restrictions would be lifted.
He did explain that it would be a “complex exercise,” in an interview with Bloomberg.
The uncertainty leaves millions of Greek Americans, Canadians, Australians and others unable to plan their summer pilgrimages. But for many, it’s not whether they are allowed to even travel– it’s about whether they are willing to travel, period.
“I’m canceling my trip this year– even if the borders open,” said Nathan Poulos, an annual visitor to Greece since childhood from Toronto, adding that “It’s too soon. Greece’s isn’t going anywhere. I’ll be safe and wait a year. I’m sad to miss the annual traditions my family has established in my father’s hometown.”
Social media users responding to a question on The Pappas Post Twitter profile were cautiously optimistic about traveling to Greece this summer, should restrictions from their home countries be lifted.
Most responded “yes,” while others said they cancelled plans, regardless of whether or not restrictions are lifted.