On April 19, the Greek government announced that a phased reopening had begun, marking the first time international travelers– including Americans– could visit the country since the borders closed in March 2020.
Airlines have rushed to cash in on the influx of restless Americans, adding new routes and increasing their daily service between several U.S, cities and Athens.
And although the headlines say “Greece is open,” there are several things visitors need to know before jumping on the airplane and embarking on what they think will be a traditional Greek Summer escape.
Greece is currently in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus cases, with about 2,779 daily cases on average, and has reported a total of just over 320,000 COVID-19 cases and 9,700 deaths as of April 21, according to the Greek National Public Health Organization.
Hospitals remain near-capacity and the daily death toll per 100,000 citizens is climbing and has exceeded both European Union and U.S. figures, according to the Financial Times tracking system.
A nationwide lockdown is still in place until May 3, the day after Orthodox Easter (May 2), which includes a daily curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Travel outside the home is prohibited, other than for essential reasons, such as for work, school, banking, grocery shopping, or medical services. Outdoor activity for physical exercise is allowed. A text message must be sent notifying authorities that you are leaving your home. This system applies for residents and visitors alike.
There’s also a ban on travel between different regions of the country, set to lift on May 15, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced in a televised address on April 21. Until then, you can only cross between regions for health, business, or family reasons.
Restaurants and cafés will be allowed to reopen for outdoor service beginning on May 3. Many shops have already reopened with capacity limits. Masks are required throughout Greece, indoors as well as outside.
Effective April 19, travelers from the European Union, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Rwanda, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates are allowed to enter Greece without having to quarantine if they meet certain conditions.
Those coming from the above countries who’ve received a full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival do not need to quarantine; they also are not required to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test.
Those who are not vaccinated will need to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test from within 72 hours of arrival in Greece. Children ages five and under are exempt.
Passengers can enter the country through nine airports: Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Chania, Mykonos, and Santorini. Land border entries are permitted at the entry gates of Promachonas and Nymphaio.
All travelers must fill out a Passenger Locator Form no more than 24 hours prior to arriving in Greece.
All international arrivals will be subject to random and mandatory health checks in Greece, which can include a rapid COVID-19 antigen test. Those who test positive for SARS-Cov-2 will be transported to a quarantine hotel, paid for by the Greek government, where they will take a COVID-19 PCR test to confirm the results.
For travelers who test positive again, they will remain in quarantine for at least 10 days after which they will undergo a new round of testing to determine if they are COVID-free.
The Greek government outlined all of these requirements in an announcement here.
The government has called the April 19th opening a “soft opening” or a trial run until the May 15th general opening, when a lot of the curfews and restrictions will be lifted.
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