Thomas W. Hodgkinson

Greece in a time of Covid

Daily Mail
Greece, July 2020

No wonder the Greeks have been reluctant to let us in. They’ve had a hundred times fewer cases of Covid-19 than we have — and they’re keen to keep it that way. The result is that, when direct flights start up again on Wednesday, you’ll find as many safety measures being observed by the locals as you could wish for. It’s the same in Santorini, Crete and Corfu, all of which I visited this week.

ON ARRIVAL: You need to fill out a short online Passenger Locator Form (PLF) two days before travelling. My first port of call was Santorini. At the airport, I’m given a quick mouth swab by a nurse wearing surgical gloves. Then I’m on my way.

BARS, RESTAURANTS AND HOTELS: As I grab a bitter Greek coffee on a semi-deserted beach in Crete, the cafe owner tells me of the safety-measure course every tourism employee has to take — that’s one Greek in five.

At the Mega Hotel in Corfu, the manager Chris takes the temperature of every guest on arrival. When you pop out, you leave your room key in a UV light steriliser box. The trouble isn’t employees, he says, it’s the guests. The Germans have been particularly unruly, refusing to lay their towels out on the poolside recliners before lying on them. ‘They do everything stupid you can imagine,’ Chris says.

GOOD TO KNOW: With fewer boats in the sea and planes in the air, the water is teeming with fish and the bird population of Corfu has doubled. That’s according to Yorgos, a twinkly-eyed waiter in Corfu Town. Then again, he also tells me that the pandemic is an international conspiracy.

GETTING AROUND: If you’re visiting more than one island, you’re not required to renew your PLF code or show it again. On domestic flights, everyone scrupulously keeps their masks in place.

PRICES: Cappuccino £1.80, bottle of local lager £1.40; can of Coke 50p, glass of white wine £2.70; litre bottle of still water 50p; three-course dinner for two with one bottle of local wine £55; hire of a sunlounger per hour £2.70, supermarket sun cream £6.50. WHAT WE SAY: Greece is more beautiful than ever and thanks to local efforts, it’s probably the safest holiday destination in Europe.