First ‘corona test’ flight to Greek islands takes off from Amsterdam


Nearly 200 Dutch tourists are jetting off to the Greek island of Rhodes in an experiment to see if corona-safe holidays can be organised during the pandemic.

The 189 travellers had to take two corona tests before take-off and will have little opportunity for sight-seeing during their stay. They will go straight from the airport to an all-inclusive resort and are banned from leaving the site, even to go to the beach next door.

They will have to take two more tests before flying home at the end of their eight-day stay and quarantine for 10 days on their return, although they can leave quarantine after five days if they test negative.

Despite the strict conditions, 25,000 people applied for the €399 trip, which is being organised by SunWeb and Transavia. Temperatures of 18 to 20 degrees are forecast in Rhodes this week, a sharp contrast with the snow and hail in parts of the Netherlands on Monday.

One passenger was revealed to have tested positive before the plane took off and was replaced by a person from the reserve list.

Anyone who tests positive during the holiday will be moved to a separate hotel where they will quarantine under Greek lockdown rules.

Amy Smulders, who is travelling with her sister, told NOS Radio 1 journaal: ‘We really needed a holiday. We will have to fill in a survey every day and our behaviour will be analysed by researchers. But I’m not really bothered by that.’

For those unable to escape to Greece, tickets went on sale on Monday for a handful of zoos which are opening this week in another ‘corona-free’ experiment.

Amsterdam zoo Artis’s website crashed shortly after sales opened at10am as it was overwhelmed by demand for the three test days. Ouwehands Dierenepark in Rhenen only had a handful of tickets left for Wednesday and Thursday by noon, while Blijdorp in Rotterdam and GaiaZOO in Kerkrade are opening their sales points later.

All zoo visitors will have to take a coronavirus test beforehand and produce a negative result on entry.

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