The updated health protocols that are to be applied in all accommodation businesses of Greece’s tourism sector to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), have been made public through a joint ministerial decision published recently in the Government Gazette.
Greece is officially opening for tourism in mid-May. Like last year, all hotels will follow mandatory health and safety protocols to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission to employees and customers.
Signed by Alternate Finance Minister Thodoros Skylakakis, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias and Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, the protocols have been examined and updated following consultations between the Tourism Ministry, the National Public Health Organization (EODY), the Health Ministry, the Covid-19 committee of experts and tourism sector bodies.
The specifications for the operation of Greece’s hotels this season will apply to all types of tourist accommodation establishments regardless of technical and operational features, classification, type and duration of operation.
All tourist accommodation establishments, regardless of size, are obliged to draw up an operational plan to be able to manage suspected Covid-19 cases, in accordance to the current instructions of EODY.
It is mandatory for hotels with a capacity of more than 50 rooms to develop an action plan and individual protocols for each section of the establishment. Hotel staff must be trained to follow and execute on action plans. Hotels with more than 50 rooms are also required to have a doctor on call, who will act on the instructions of EODY for testing suspected cases of Covid-19.
For public health protection, every hotel must keep an updated record (log book) of staff members and all guests staying at the hotel – name, nationality, date of arrival and departure, contact details (address, telephone, e-mail), so that communication is possible if a coronavirus case is identified at a later time.
Specific health and safety measures will also be in force in all common use areas of hotels, including kitchens, restaurants, playgrounds, spa services and swimming pools.
As like last season, both hotel staff and guests will be required to adhere to a number of health and safety rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The rules include mandatory mask wearing, avoiding handshakes, social distancing and following signage (to remind customers to keep their distance from one another).
Anyone associated with the hotel that are found to be violating the health protocols will be punished with fines between 500 to 5,000 euros, while the hotel’s operation may be suspended from 15 to 90 days.
Rapid testing for Covid-19
Rapid testing for Covid-19 must be conducted on all hotel employees once a week, in accordance with the EODY guidelines, by a health professional or a doctor. Hotels also have the option to offer rapid testing to guests on the date of check out.
Self service at food buffets
A key difference from last year’s protocols concerns dining at hotel restaurants with buffets. Hotel guests will this year will be able to serve themselves at food buffets of the accommodation they are residing at.
According to the updated protocol, the dining areas of accommodation units that have a food buffet must see to the following:
– a hand sanitizer must be available at the start of the buffet. Hotel staff must ascertain that all hotel guests sanitize their hands before serving themselves.
– hotel staff must ascertain that all hotel guests are following the required distances when serving themselves at the buffet.
– all buffet style service should have sneeze guards* installed. Alternatively, hotel staff must be on call to provide guests with disposable gloves so that they will be able to select their own food and serve themselves. Once a guest reaches the end of the buffet he or she must discard of the gloves in a nearby trash bin. It is also necessary for guests to disinfect their hands with antiseptic (provided by hotel staff) before and after using disposable gloves.
– It is recommended for certain food on the buffet to be available in individual bowls.
* sneeze guards are acrylic or glass barriers that protect buffet line entrées and sides from airborne contaminants
The updated health protocols also give Greek hotels and other tourist accommodation establishments the option to have “quarantine rooms” in the case that a guest or member of staff contracts Covid-19. The rooms will be used exclusively as a place to isolate confirmed coronavirus cases that do not require hospital treatment.
‘Health First’ seal is mandatory
It is noted that it is mandatory for all Greek hotels and other tourist accommodation establishments to obtain the “Health First” certification seal that was launched last year. The seal, which will assure that a hotel complies with the official health and safety protocols, must be displayed in the reception area.
Details (in Greek) on the updated health protocols that are to be applied in all accommodation businesses of Greece’s tourism sector can be found here.
The health protocols will be in force until May 31, 2022.
The joint ministerial decision also includes the updated health protocols that are to be followed by all tourism enterprises, including organized campsites, spa centers, businesses with tourist coaches and rent a car companies.