Greece, Italy to Reintroduce COVID Test Requirement

Greece and Italy have reintroduced a COVID test requirement for all arriving passengers, including those who are vaccinated against corona.

Italy

Starting today (16th December), all passengers travelling to Italy must show a negative COVID test result, including passengers who are fully vaccinated.

Both antigen tests (taken within 24 hours before departure) as well as PCR tests (maximum 48 hours old) are accepted.

Although passengers with an EU Digital COVID certificate or another accepted proof of vaccination or proof of recovery from corona do not have to quarantine on arrival in Italy and are free to go wherever they want, those who are unvaccinated will have to quarantine for five days.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the measure will be in effect until 31st January 2022.

bologna italy covid test requirement
All people travelling to Italy will need to show a negative PCR test or COVID antigen test on arrival. ©Paliparan

Greece

Another country which has reintroduced a COVID test requirement before entering the country is Greece.

All arriving visitors will require a negative PCR test which cannot be older than 48 hours before arrival. The measure will go into effect on 19th December.

ftenagia beach halki
Greece now requires a negative PCR test for all arriving visitors, including those who are vaccinated against corona. ©Paliparan

Other European countries

Portugal already reintroduced a COVID test requirement on 1st December, a measure which will be in place until at least 9th January 2022.

All passengers flying to Portugal, regardless of nationality, point of origin and vaccination status, have to submit a negative COVID test result. This can be a PCR test which must have been performed at least 72 hours before arrival or a rapid antigen test of up to 48 hours before arrival.

Since 4th December, Switzerland requires all travellers to have a negative PCR test result of not more than 72 hours old before arrival. Another test is required between day 4 and 7 after entry, although this test can also be a rapid antigen test.

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Travellers to Switzerland now require a COVID test before and after their arrival. ©Paliparan

Are these COVID test requirements to stay?

To streamline corona entry requirements and to ease travel, the European Union introduced the EU Digital COVID certificate earlier this year.

Several EU officials have recently voiced their displeasure at countries unilaterally reintroducing new corona travel requirements, which undermines the whole idea behind the EU Digital COVID certificate.

Věra Jourová, the European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, said that “these member states’ individual decisions reduce people’s trust in the same rules across Europe”.

Although it is of course impossible to predict the future, it is likely that COVID travel requirements will again be streamlined in early 2022, allowing vaccinated persons to travel freely within the EU without having to take PCR tests.

palermo italy eu test requirement covid
It is likely that the COVID test requirement of countries like Italy and Greece is only temporarily as the EU plans to streamline corona travel measures. ©Paliparan

EU booster plan

The European Commission has proposed a new plan which stipulates that EU member states “should not refuse a vaccination certificate that has been issued less than 9 months since the administration of the last dose of the primary vaccination”.

In practice, it means that within the EU there should be no additional requirements for those who have completed their COVID vaccination within the last 9 months (two jabs of the Pfizer, Moderna or Astra Zeneca vaccine, or the single-shot Johnson vaccine).

People who were vaccinated longer than 9 months ago would therefore need to take a booster shot to keep their EU Digital COVID certificate (green pass) in order to travel without any additional testing requirements.

The same would count for people who have a EU Digitial COVID certificate based on proof of recovery from the corona virus as also this would lapse after 9 months, requiring them to take the vaccine if they want to keep their green pass.

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In early 2022, travel throughout the EU will likely be streamlined again. ©Screenshot

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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