A British tourist who has flocked to Greece having been locked down in England for months has spoken out over what holidays post-lockdown are like in Europe.
Gail Hadfield Grainger, from the North West, flew from Manchester with Jet2 to Kos, a Greek island, on July 16, accompanied by her friends and 11-year-old daughter.
Gail, 37, told Manchester Evening News she feels “so much safer” in Greece, adding to our sister title: “I know where I stand; I feel comfortable that the locals have got everybody’s best interest at heart.”
She added: “In the UK you just don’t know what’s going on from one day to the next. Here you feel protected and comfortable.”
“I just got sick to death of everything at home. I’ve been home-schooling so I needed a break and some sunshine,” she said.
“We were worried to start with because we didn’t know if we were going to get quarantined on the way in.”
She continued: “But it’s been so nice to get away from the UK. It’s such a hostile situation at home, with people moaning, judging people, not wanting to listen; there’s mixed messages from the government and people feel they’re being lied to over the death toll.
“Whereas here they understand they’ve all got to do their bit. There’s clear guidance on what’s expected and they want to make sure the island is looked after. It’s miles different than in the UK.”
“I expected the airport to be chaotic and I was panicking with having the kids with me but it ran so much more smoothly than I thought,” said Gail.
She flew out for £180 per person, adding: “It was probably one of the best flights we’ve had. Everyone was making sure everything ran smoothly because of coronavirus.”
Gail said: “These were scanned at the airport when we arrived and it looks like one person from each party is taken aside for a temperature check and a swab.
“My friend who had to do this was told that the hotel would be alerted if she tested positive, but we haven’t heard anything so we’re assuming she was fine.”
Gail added: “The minute we landed, I was so relieved and so glad we’d booked. I’m not going to panic about travelling at all during the pandemic.”
Gail explained: “When we leave the hotel, we hand the keys over to the staff who spray them with disinfectant and put them away. When you come back, they disinfect them again, and pass them back.
“Hotel staff come in each day to change the bin, spray your room with disinfectant, but they won’t touch any of your possessions.
“If you want your bedding changing you have to let the staff know beforehand, then the cleaners will come with protective clothing on.
“There’s just so many things they’ve thought about, they really have it covered. The remote control is even covered in plastic so it can be cleaned.
“Each time a guest moves from the sunbeds and tables, staff will spray the area down with disinfectant.”
In explaining the travel process, Gail said: “I had to fill out a form similar to the one we had to do when we arrived in Greece and they cleaned the pen in between guests. We also had our temperature checked.
“The lady was wearing two masks and latex gloves. She then disinfected a travel card before handing it to us which said we were safe to travel
“We queued up to the boat making sure there was space between our parties. It was absolutely brilliant. She explained they were taking these measures to keep everyone and the island safe.”
Gail added: “I was speaking to the lady who ran the excursion and she said when they were in lockdown initially, they had to text the police when they wanted to leave the house and say where they were going. All supermarkets had an allocated number, and then they’d receive a text back confirming the journey which provided a time slot of how long they had.”
Gail said: “Compared to at home where it’s manic, it’s so much more relaxed.
“On occasion at busy supermarkets or in smaller shops, you’re asked to wait outside. And when you walk into supermarkets here, you can buy a mask for about 30p before you enter. There’s disinfectant everywhere you go.”
“There’s nothing on the table when you arrive so no salt and pepper pots for example, everything is in disposable sachets. Tables are covered in disposable paper cloths,” she continued.
“The majority of the time, you’re eating outside which is safer, and you just sit with whoever you are with.
“When it comes to paying the bill, the staff wipe the table down, throw everything away, disinfect it, and get it set up again for the next family to come along. They’re handling it really well.”
Gail added: “It’s the same in bars. Last night we watched a live band at Treasure Island. All staff are in masks, tables are spread out outside, and as soon as you’ve finished with something, you see the staff washing it straight away.”
“One thing that’s quite sad to see is empty beaches. The tourism here has taken a massive hit. It’s absolutely dead,” Gail said.
“Usually it’s rows and rows of sunbeds, but they’re divided into twos with gaps in between and there doesn’t seem to be as many beds.
“The beach bars have the same cleaning processes as all the restaurants.”
On a final note, Gail said: “As long as people are sensible, I’d recommend booking, as long as you’re willing to respect the country’s views and how they’re handling the virus, then definitely fly out.
“If you’re going to go and abuse it, don’t go because you’ll ruin it for everyone else.
“The trip has made me want to travel again so if I find another deal when I get home, I’ll come back straight away.”