The Government of Greece has announced its full plan to open the summer holiday season and detailed the exact entry requirements for tourists during the ongoing corona virus crisis.
After much uncertainty and lots of preliminary plans being leaked to the press, the Greek Government has finally detailed its full plan how the summer tourist season will look like in these corona virus (COVID-19) times.
More importantly, it also detailed which countries can sent tourists to Greece and what others can expect who live in a country which has not yet been accepted by the Greek authorities.
List of 29 countries
From 15th June onward, tourists from a total of 29 countries can visit Greece without first having to be quarantined or forced into home isolation. These tourists can only arrive at the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki, or at the land borders with Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria.
These countries are on alphabetical order: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea and Switzerland.
Passengers originating their journey from these countries will not be tested or quarantined at arrival and can enjoy their Greek holiday. However, the Greek authorities will have the right to pick out a number of passengers from these countries for random testing.
What if I don’t live in those 29 countries?
Do note that what matters is not your nationality, but your airport of origin. According to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, passengers originating from an airport outside the aforementioned 29 countries can still come, but will still be tested on arrival in Greece.
If tested positive for corona virus, they will be quarantined for 14 days under supervision. If you test negative, you will still need to self-quarantine for 7 days according to the new regulations.
This of course leaves open a massive loophole, as passengers from the UK, France, Belgium or the Netherlands (who are not among the first 29 countries) could theoretically first head to Germany and book a flight from a German airport to Greece.
However, I would still advise some caution doing so. Booking Lufthansa London-Frankfurt-Athens on one ticket will certainly not work (as your airport of origin will still be London – and this will be visible in the system of immigration officers in Greece).
Booking a London-Frankfurt ticket as well as a separate Frankfurt-Athens booking would theoretically be fine as you can say your journey originated in Frankfurt. Whether or not this is a smart idea to do so is completely up to you however, as there is no way telling if in practice this would indeed work.
Next phase of opening
The next phase of Greece being reopened for tourists will start on 1st July. From this moment, all Greek international airports can accept flights from abroad instead of only Athens and Thessaloniki.
Instead of only screening those from ‘blacklisted’ airports, from that moment on random screening of passengers will count for all arrivals no matter their origin. The Greek health authorities however can dictate more strict testing measures if public health considerations warrants this.
As the Greek Foreign Ministry put it: “Greece at any stage retains the right to modify any of the above in light of changing circumstances.”
This could both mean a sudden mass outbreak in Greece, or a worsening situation in another country after which passengers travelling from there could suddenly all be subject to testing.
The Foreign Ministry also noted that “additional restrictions regarding certain countries will be announced at a later date”, which could mean that direct flights from certain countries might still not operate after 1st July.
From 1st July, international sea traffic will be possible allowing European travellers to take one of the popular ferry routes from Italy to Greece.
Greece is reopening for tourists, and a lot of travellers will already be welcome after 15th of June without needing to be tested or quarantined first. Even if you do not live in one of the 29 accepted countries, you may still be able to visit Greece by using the loophole to travel first to one of these countries, and board a flight to Greece there.
The biggest opening will however happen on 1st July, when all airports can accept international flights and even passengers from previously blacklisted countries can fly into Greece without being tested. However, the Greek government might announce additional restrictions regarding certain countries, which still makes it a bit unclear for many what to expect.
If you live in a country which has COVID-19 under control, but which has not yet been named in the original list of 29 countries, I would be convinced that you will definitely be able to visit Greece after 1st July (Poland is for example one of such countries with a good corona virus health record, which surprisingly has been left out).
With countries like France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and the USA being highly important to the Greek travel industry, I cannot image that these nations will not be able to send direct flights to Greece and that British or Americans will face any testing or quarantine measures upon arrival from 1st July.
However, unless you travel first to a country like Germany to exploit the loophole, there are chances that the Greek government might still add extra measures as they left the door open to exclude countries or to reintroduce mass testing at the airport for certain arrivals.
How much risk you want to take with booking is completely up to you, but if I would be an American or a Brit I would probably still wait for a week or two more before making definitive travel arrangements. These are unprecedented times and it might well proof to be the better choice to wait and see first how the measures will look in practice.
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