Greece to reopen museums mid-June: minister

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Greece to reopen museums mid-June: minister
US tourists take selfies in front of the Acropolis archaeological site on March 13, 2020, in Athens. LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP.

ATHENS (AFP).- Museums shuttered by the coronavirus crisis in Greece will reopen on June 15, the culture minister said Thursday amid steps by the government to salvage the vital tourism season.

Athens expects the economy to contract at least 4.7 percent this year, partly due to the loss of tourism income from key markets such as Germany, Britain and the United States.

With 147 deaths from the virus, Greece this week gradually began reopening after a six-week lockdown.

"Our aim is to keep culture active... we don't want a scene without culture because of the pandemic," Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told a news teleconference.

"If things go smoothly, some of these initiatives could begin sooner," she said.

The reopening of open-air archaeological sites on May 18, with restaurants to follow on June 1, has already been announced. This includes the Acropolis, Greece's most visited site, Mendoni said Thursday.

Rehearsals and film shoots may also resume on May 18, she said.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that the season could conditionally begin in July.

But Greece would accept visitors only under "very specific protocols", possibly with pre-travel testing agreed at EU level, and "provided that the global epidemic is on a downward path", he told CNN this week.

Representatives from across the travel and restaurant sectors have warned that spacing requirements will discourage many businesses from reopening.

Hoteliers are expected to submit proposals to the government on how to resume operations next week.

Greece is considering bilateral agreements to bring over travellers from countries less affected by the virus, such as Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria and Austria, Kathimerini daily reported.

© Agence France-Presse

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