May 29, 2020 - World

Greece hopes coronavirus success story survives the tourist season

Mykonos is quiet, for now. Photo: Athanasios Gioumpasis/Getty Images

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis makes it sound pretty simple.

What he's saying: Asked this week how his country had avoided a major COVID-19 outbreak, he said: "It was obvious to me after talking to our public health experts that we would be moving into some sort of lockdown. I chose to do it earlier rather than later."

  • Mitsotakis also noted that he’d taken a backseat to the nation's chief epidemiologist, who held nightly press conferences and issued guidance closely followed by a population that had previously shown little trust in government or expertise.

The good news: "Social trust is very important," Mitsotakis said. "We had lost it in Greece for many years, and this pandemic was an opportunity out of the blue to recover it."

The bad news: "One risk I see is to be a victim of our own success,” Mitsotakis said, noting that people were growing more “complacent.”

  • Another risk is his decision to reopen for tourism (which accounts for 20% of the Greek economy) beginning July 1.
  • Tourists from countries with well-contained outbreaks will be invited first. Americans will have to wait a while longer.

What to watch: Mitsotakis said he believed countries like his that adopted lockdowns early, despite the economic pain, would ultimately recover faster economically than those who waited until their outbreaks had grown more severe.

Go deeper... Paradise and the pandemic: The outlook for summer travel

Go deeper