A new government measure forces tourists visiting Greece this summer to fill in a special online corona screening form at least 48 hours before arriving into the country.
Greece is one of the European countries which has opened its borders for tourism, allowing people from most European countries as well as a select few others into its territory.
From 1st July, tourists from many European nations can travel to Greece by plane, ferry or overland by car or bus without being forced into quarantine or self-isolation on arrival.
The Greek government has however always said that it will do random testing on airports, sea ports and land borders to gather data and to check for possible corona virus (COVID-19 infections).
The authorities have now detailed their plans how this sample testing will look like and what tourists can expect when arriving in Greece.
Greek quality daily Kathimerini reported that all tourists are obliged to fill in an online form at least 48 hours before they arrive into the country.
The so-called Passenger Locator Form (PLF) includes information such as the traveller’s home address, duration of previous stays in other countries, as well as the addresses of all the places he or she will stay in Greece.
The PLF can be found online on this special Greek government travel website.
According to the website, passengers will receive a QR code by email shortly before their journey to Greece.
Reportedly, the percentage of people who need to undergo sample corona testing will be based on your risk profile, such as whether or not you might have visited other countries in the weeks before and the exact COVID-19 infection rate in your home area.
Local media reported that this could mean that from a flight out of a low-risk country perhaps only 1 or 2 people might be tested, while from a flight out of a country with a higher rate of corona infections perhaps 8 people could be tested – all depending of course on the maximum testing capacity available at each border point.
The Greek website outlined the procedures which tourists can expect upon arrival. For example, the airport arrival procedure is as follows:
“Screening personnel direct passengers, depending on their QR code, either to the screening area or to the exit (baggage claim area or passport control).
“Until the screening results become available, passengers tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team are obliged to self-isolate at the address of their final destination as declared on their passenger locator form (PLF). Upon completion of the screening, they are directed towards the exit.”
It is estimated that it takes up to 24 hours to receive the testing results.
As I booked a summer holiday to Greece myself, I just filled in the form to test it out. If you plan to go island hopping and stay at multiple places, it is a bit of an effort to fill in all details.
It took me some 15 minutes to fill in the form, after which I received the following email:
“Thank you for completing the Passenger Locator Form before your trip to Greece. We appreciate your cooperation in this extraordinary circumstance. We are doing everything we can to accommodate your stay in Greece and keep you safe.
“Beginning July 1, 2020, the Greek government has determined how the country will welcome travellers, carry out the necessary diagnostic screening, and keep everyone safe throughout the season.
“We will shortly be in touch again with more details with regards to your submitted PLF document.”
Want to visit Greece?
If people from your country are allowed to visit Greece and you are getting itchy feet, why not book a trip to the blue Aegean yourself?
Aegean Airlines currently runs a 30% discount offer on summer flights to Greece and lets children fly for free along! The offer is however only valid until the end of this month (30th June) so you have to be fast.
The PLF corona screening form makes a lot of sense as it will allow the government to base the random testing on some hard data and risk profiles.
I’m curious how it will work out in practice and am actually highly curious (or even a wee bit nervous?) what QR code I will receive and whether or not I will be selected for random screening.
Measures like this are however necessary for a country like Greece, which needs to walk a tightrope between saving its tourist economy and public health.
Greece has managed to cope with the corona virus extremely well and kept infection rates low. Locals however know that in some places the health infrastructure is fragile, especially on the islands where sick tourists will have to be flown or transported by the coast guard to mainland hospitals.
I wouldn’t be surprised if more countries would come with similar online forms and screening measures.
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