Greece reopened its main airports to more international flights on Monday, hoping to kick-start its vital tourism sector after three months in lockdown.
The first flight to the Alexander the Great airport in Thessaloniki on Monday, arrived to great fanfare after departing from Munich, Germany.
The passengers were welcomed by political officials from Thessaloniki and Greece’s Deputy Minister of Civil Protection Nikos Chardalias, and the flight was also celebrated with a water arch.
“I’m happy to be back in Greece to see my loved ones,” Elias Tsigas, one of the passengers among the flight’s 164 travelers, told local website thestival.gr.
US tourist, Chris Saye, added: “Well it’s great, it’s like freedom,” as he landed at Athens’ main airport after arriving from Paris with his wife.
Passengers arriving from airports deemed high-risk by the European Union’s aviation safety agency, including airports in the Paris region, are tested for the coronavirus on arrival and quarantined for up to 14 days, depending on the result.
Arrivals from other airports are randomly tested. People are still barred from flying in from Britain and Turkey.
Kilometer-long queues at Greek-Bulgarian border crossing:
According to local media, visitors to Greece weren’t just arriving by air.
Long queues of cars and lorries formed at Makaza and Kulata checkpoints at Bulgaria’s border with Greece on Monday, as visitors hoped to cross.
The queues at the checkpoints at the Bulgarian border began forming in the early morning, with travellers not knowing that the Greek border opening was scheduled for 12am. The border opening was brought forward to 11am.
Data from the traffic police shows that between 12 and 15,000 people crossed the border through Kulata checkpoint.