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Greece to Require Negative Covid-19 Tests from All Travelers as of December 19

Photo: Shutterstock

Fears over the fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19 have prompted Greek authorities to require as of 6am on Sunday, December 19, of all inbound travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to present a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result taken before entering the country.

PCR tests should be performed within 72 hours before travel and rapid antigen tests should be performed within 24 hours before travel.

Speaking during a media briefing on Thursday, Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga said that the measure was being taken as a precaution due to the holiday season.

Further details and updates on travel restrictions can be found here.

Highly concerned, earlier today, European Union leaders agreed that vaccine booster shots were necessary, particularly in view of the holiday season as epidemiologists warn of a surge in cases.

The heads of EU nations said that repeat doses of vaccines against the deadly virus were “urgent” and “crucial”, stressing at the same time that a coordinated response to travel was critical in order to avoid creating confusion and trust among travelers.

Photo source: European Commission

Photo source: European Commission

Additionally, they said the EU Digital Covid Certificate should continue to ensure restriction-free travel across the Union.

Meanwhile, Greek health experts are warning that Christmas and New Year’s get-togethers and activities are expected to lead to a surge in positive cases, particularly due to the highly infectious Omicron variant. Some medical doctors are calling for stricter measures, including closing schools and nightclubs, while others are stressing the need for all returning students or incoming travelers to get PCR tests regardless of vaccination status.

Additionally, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, attending the EU leaders meeting in Brussels, also said he may need to order new measures ahead of Christmas in view of soaring cases and deaths, noting that there was “great concern over the spread of the Omicron variant, which sooner or later will be in all European countries.”

He added that booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines were key to curbing the spread of Omicron. The Greek prime minister also proposed the EU digital Covid pass to apply for a period of six plus one months instead of the six plus three months proposed by the European Committee.

Greece already reported at least five cases of Omicron infections this week, and in the last 24-hour period, 4,696 coronavirus cases and 96 deaths. Based on December 16 data provided by the European Center of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), all of Greece is listed as high-risk red on the map of Covid-19 risk.

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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, 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. Pascale Reply

    The pcr test is 72 hours (before time landing in Greece) the rapid test is 24 hours(mentioned in aegean airlines) but maybe other companies have 48? It s a bit unclear in the media

  2. Mark+Brealey Reply

    UK FCO website is advising 48 hours before arrival for rapid tests. Which is correct ?

  3. Mark+Brealey Reply

    Or in the case of anti gen tests cases 24 hours before departure or arrival? Although personally waiting a couple of days to see whether Ryanair still fly before booking overpriced UK PCR tests

  4. Valerio Reply

    It was always meant before landing (72 hrs before Landing/entering in Greece, Greek time)

  5. Clover Reply

    72 hours before you leave Australia

  6. Paul Reply

    Does this mean 72 hours before I land or 72 hours before I leave Australia ?

    • Theo Reply

      Greee requires 72 hrs before entrying the country. I think that willl be clear. Also not 72 hrs before leaving AUS.

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