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European nations welcome cheerier days

ATHENS-As the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines gains momentum, some European countries are welcoming back tourists, and the United Kingdom is saying goodbye to months of tough lockdown restrictions.

Greece launched its tourism season on Friday amid a competitive scramble across the Mediterranean to lure holidaymakers emerging from lockdowns.

“We’re all vaccinated, the tables are outside and spread out, with hand sanitizers on each one,” said Kyriaki Kapri, owner of the Naxos beachside restaurant Gorgona. During a six-month lockdown, Gorgona closed for the first time in its 50-year history.

The European Union has yet to introduce its cellphone-friendly travel pass system. But southern member states, driven deeper into debt by the pandemic and highly dependent on tourism revenues, are not waiting.

Croatia has already reopened, as has Cyprus, joined on Friday by Greece, whose citizens were allowed to leave home without an electronic permit for the first…

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