More than 2,500 foreign and local tourists have been barred from boarding ferries in Greece in the last three days because they did not have the right Covid documents, according to the country’s shipping minister.

Amid a worrying increase in coronavirus cases, the Greek coast guard has been brought in to check that tourists have the right paperwork, apparently because port authorities have been failing to do it properly.

“The coast guard has assumed the responsibility for the passenger checks because they were found to be deficient,” Giannis Plakiotakis, the shipping minister, told a local television station.

Passengers on Greek ferries are required to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated or have antibodies because they recently recovered from the virus. 

Passengers on Greek ferries are required to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated or have antibodies against the virus

Credit: EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

People can also show a negative PCR test taken maximum 72 hours before departure or a negative rapid test taken within 42 hours. 

The tightening of travel controls comes after a week-long ban on music and nighttime curfew were imposed on the party island of Mykonos amid an outbreak of Covid cases.

Under the rules, music is banned in restaurants, cafes and clubs and only those going to and from work or to the hospital are allowed to move around between 1am and 6am.

The regulations have upset many local tourism operators, who said they would dissuade the party crowd that normally flocks to the Cycladic island.

Mykonos is not the only island in the government’s sights – Nikos Hardalias, the deputy civil protection minister, has warned that the authorities are “one step” from imposing new restrictions on the islands of Paros, Ios and Santorini, as well as the towns of Rethymnon and Heraklion in Crete.

Only 2.3 million tourists have visited Greece so far this year, down from more than 34 million in 2019

Credit: AFP

Greece is fervently hoping for a strong summer season, as tourism accounts for a fifth of the economy.

More than 34 million tourists visited Greece in 2019, but the number fell to 7.4 million last year after the pandemic swept the world.

So far this year, 2.3 million tourists have visited Greece, with Germans making up the largest national group.

But the number of Covid cases has been increasing in recent weeks, with nearly 2,700 new infections announced nationwide last week, a nearly sevenfold increase compared to three weeks before.

Alongside restrictions on tourism, the government has also mandated the vaccination of health system workers and nursing home staff.