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Greece Opens to Travelers with Tests and Caution

Greek National Public Health Organization’s (EODY) crew is conducting COVID-19 tests to travelers at the Promahonas checkpoint. Photo Source: @EODY

Greek authorities may decide to boost testing for Covid-19 after thousands of tourists entered the country starting last Wednesday, when Greece opened its borders after months of lockdowns.

More than 28,000 travelers arrived on Saturday with the majority of passengers heading directly to the islands. Greek authorities said tourist traffic was picking up at all entry points including airports, ports, and on the border.

Airports across Greece opened on Wednesday handling flights from across Europe and countries allowed quarantine-free access.

Greece’s government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said health authorities would be heightening testing this month as the number of arrivals increases.

Photo Source: @EODY

Approximately 2,000 tests are carried out daily at Athens International Airport out of a total 6,000 conducted at 30 entry points in Greece based on health status information provided on the mandatory PLF (Passenger Locator Form) form.

Indicatively, of some 25 new Covid-19 infections over the weekend, eight were detected in tourists after screening at points of entry.

It should be reminded that all travelers are required by law to fill in the form 48 hours ahead of travel. Based on the risk assessment, targeted testing and quarantine are carried out.

On the Greek Border

On the border, thousands of incoming visitors mainly from Balkan countries waited in queues at Promachonas, the only checkpoint open to travelers. More than 66,000 travelers entered Greece through Promachonas over the weekend.

Photo Source: @EODY

Meanwhile, the decision to ban incoming travelers from Serbia due to high Covid-19 incidents there created long lines at the border as a result of Serbian travelers who tried to enter Greece before the decision took effect on Monday. Travelers from Serbia cannot enter Greece until July 15.

More than 1,500 travelers from Italy came to Greece over the weekend through the port of Patra, as did holidaymakers from France and other European countries, many with their own camper vans headed for Crete, the Ionian islands and the Peloponnese.

Referring to the first days of Greece’s re-opening to travelers, Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said visitors expressed their satisfaction with the measures and professionalism.

“The first tourists we received were really very enthusiastic coming to Greece, they view the measures we are taking in a positive light – despite the relative inconvenience – but they [measures] demonstrate that our country is addressing issues with professionalism, as it has done all these months,” he said.

Theoharis went on to estimate that the August and September would show signs of improvement.

“We all understand that there is fear, unawareness, or even anxiety and financial difficulty that do not allow many people to travel. But if we win this bet in the first weeks and successfully manage, then I think that many more people will want to come to our country,” he added.

Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis

On an inspection visit to Crete, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the government had hired additional medical staff to meet the increased needs and was making sure all airports, hotels, and medical facilities were being constantly monitored. Kikilias also called on foreign visitors to strictly maintain personal hygiene and safe distances.

“As we Greeks observed health protocols, listened to the experts, and achieved a great success in these months so as to have a safe country, so should our tourists,” Kikilias said.

Meanwhile, in efforts to inspire travel to Greece, package tour giant TUI launched its “Welcome Back to Looking Forward” campaign with a 30-second video promoting Crete, a popular tourist destination for UK travelers, who will be able to visit Greece as of July 15.

*Please note: increased safety measures and testing in addition to passport controls may lead to longer delays at all entry points into Greece. including ports, airports, and border checkpoints.

About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and SETimes.com, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.
  1. EM Page Reply

    We are due to travel to Crete on the 5th of August we was not aware of this so feeling a bit anxious now, we are both 65 soon and this holiday was to celebrate it, we they be more likely to to choose older tourist , we are on a ten day holiday so if we did test positive how would we get back home we can not cancel now cos we will loose our money due to us cancelling not jet2 I would rather have a test before we go I think it would be better to cancel all UK flights now this is turning in to a nightmare not a holiday also on the forums they are saying the British or not welcome the Greeks don’t want us there .

  2. Kris Reply

    I’ve no idea why people who take the test don’t quarantine until they receive their results I’m shocked that on more than one occasion they’ve ignored the rules and infected others.
    It’s really not acceptable to put others at risk. If we all follow the rules we would increase safety.
    The reason the Greeks are testing this way is they knew people would not pay for tests in their own country on top of the cost of their holiday. So they’re risking it all to allow tourists in.
    Serbia was spiking 3 weeks ago we all knew this and they allowed the Serbs to come in because they spend a lot. There is no social distancing going on, no masks. Today I walked past a bar and I swear to God they all had small eye visors on upside down sort of covering their mouth. Which offers absolutely no one any protection. No one is enforcing anything and when there is a spike it’s blamed on people coming into the country as if it makes it all ok. Once it’s in the community the figures double every few days yet not in Greece. So They have to be massaging the figures because they’re not testing the Greek population. Non of us where I live and there are over a million of us living in this city have been offered any type of test. But I guess if you don’t test you have low numbers…

  3. Dan Reply

    Hi, where did you get this information? We are due to lefkada in a few weeks and i am keen to understand under what circumstances we could be asked to self-isolate. Travelling with young kids so this could be a real pain. I can only see that those with a positive test have to self-isolate for 14 days so would be interested where you read this. Also does self-isolation have to be in the government guided hotel? what if you are staying in a private residence?

    • Carol Reply

      You have to self isolate (on one of the government’s hotels) if someone in your airplane tests positive. If if your test at the airport is negative. This is what I have been reading from twitter reports.

    • Debra Silvester Reply

      Hi Dan, my family and I are due to fly in 10 days, according to the FCO, it says anyone testing positive will have to self isolate in government accommodation for 14 days. More alarmingly, it states that if anyone from the flight tests positive, then you may have to isolate aswell.

  4. Imran Reply

    Are Australian citizen living in Pakistan for a year are allowed to enter Greece as a tourist?

  5. Oxana Murasco Reply

    I’m the EU citizen and I’m going to Greece. Can my husband come with me if he doesn’t have EU passport?

    • Carol Reply

      Of course not

  6. Carol Reply

    Absolutely agree with you Ray. I’m canceling mine because I simply cannot stay 14 days away from work.

  7. Satti Reply

    I cancelled my trip to Greece this year because I don’t want to be swabbed and quarantined on arrival. I also don’t want to lose my money and annual leave being imprisoned in some dingy hotel. The tests should be carried out before tourists are allowed to board their flights so that they do not travel if test positive. The Greek government is playing Russian roulette with people’s holidays and money.

    • Maria Reply

      We were not tested in Greece at igoumenitsa port which is shocking..

  8. Alexis Pandelis Reply

    Interesting to allow tourists from UK, given the fact that UK has an access of 250k active covid cases at the moment – are all travellers from UK being tested?

  9. Hans Czylok Reply

    May I add my 50 cents here?
    Making an Covid-19 test before travel will be better, because then you know you likely will not have a positive test after arrival. Why not refund cost of test after arrival by an voucher which you can spent at your holiday destination? This will be a wining situation for everyone, won’t it?

  10. Ray Reply

    We are real Crete fans and have been visiting the island for the past 5 years. There are some Information in different threads which have been troubling us. If I understand this right, then I have the following risk when traveling to Greece: If the Corona test result of a tourist is positive, every fellow passenger on the plane seated two rows in front of or behind this Tourist will be trapped and quarantined for 14 days in Greece in a Hotel provided by the government.
    I don’t want to pay 3,200 EUR for a trip to take this risk. It doesn’t make sense to me!
    I can understand that the Greeks want to protect themselves. It would have been better if they had asked every tourist for a current proof / negative test on entry. I wouldn’t mind. But I don’t want to take the risk of being quarantined through no fault of my own.

    • Carol Reply

      Absolutely agree with you Ray. I’m canceling mine because I simply cannot stay 14 days away from work.

    • Maria Reply

      That’s right. You got the information correct. So it’s up to you to decide if you would like to take that risk or not.

    • yasemin Reply

      100% agree

    • Dan Reply

      Hi, where did you get this information? We are due to lefkada in a few weeks and i am keen to understand under what circumstances we could be asked to self-isolate. Travelling with young kids so this could be a real pain. I can only see that those with a positive test have to self-isolate for 14 days so would be interested where you read this. Also does self-isolation have to be in the government guided hotel? what if you are staying in a private residence?

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