Greece officially opens the doors to tourists from all over starting tomorrow, May 15. With millions of tourists expected to pour into the Greek airports all summer long, Greece has been working hard to prepare for this, especially on the covid front. Now, after more than 6 months in lockdown, Greece is lifting many of the restrictions.
Greece Has Lifted Many Restrictions
Link: Greece Travel Site (including the form you need to fill out before arrival!)
I wrote a post the other day on what to expect – as of then. Things in Greece can change quite often and I am doing my best to try and stay on top of these changes for those of who are either planning on visiting Greece or already have plans on the books. So, here is the latest information on what to expect in Greece on the eve of the doors of the country opening to tourists.
Note: Before you depart, you will need to fill out the Passenger Locator Form that is at the link above on the Greece Travel site. This will be required by your airline and used on arrival in Greece.
No More Movement Restrictions
Everyone in Greece knew about, and likely, grew tired with the SMS number of 13033. This was the number that a text message had to be sent to every time someone wanted to leave their home for one of 6 categories of specific reasons. Failing to do so (or failing to carry a filled out movement form) would result in a €300 fine if stopped by police (though many police really didn’t check on this).
This had been in place for 6 months – since November 7. Now, as of May 14, that requirement has been lifted and people can move freely about without having to have a special reason. This is indeed great news for everyone in Greece and also those visiting since any rules in place regarding Covid-19 will need to be followed by visitors as well.
Stores Have Fully Opened
Stores had opened with a limited shopping experience. Would-be shoppers had to fill out a form on the store’s website or by calling the store number to get a slotted appointment time. Shoppers would have a limited time in the store, like 30-45 minutes, and could not be out shopping for more than 3 hours per day (that was from the time you left your residence until your returned).
Well, this too is gone and stores are fully opened and available! One thing that is important to note is that there are capacity limits of 1 person per 25 square meters. This means that there will inevitably be lines at the stores, especially popular stores and on weekends or in the evening. If you are visiting Greece, you may want to hit up any stores you want to go to earlier in the day.
Mask Use Still Required
Just count on this – you will likely need to wear a mask outside no matter when you visit Greece this summer. There are exceptions, for things like exercise (which includes walking, etc) and for when you are seated at a cafe or restaurant. But, indoors in public buildings you will also need to wear a mask.
Not wearing a mask will net you a €300 fine if stopped by police so be aware of this. There is some talk that this could be lifted later in September, based on the rate of vaccinations in Greece.
Curfews Have Been Limited
The government has made the curfew begin even later than before (at one point, it was 6pm on weekends!) to now start at 12:30AM and to lift at 5AM. So, this just means that you will need to be at your hotel or rental property by 12:30AM. Not a big deal for sure and it is only for 4.5 hours of the night.
Testing/Vaccination Required for Island Travel
If you are traveling to islands you will need to have some proof of testing or vaccination or recovering from Covid-19. Here is the breakdown on this:
- Have proof of full vaccination (meaning you have received the second dose of any vaccine that requires two doses)
- Received a negative PCR test within 72 hours before your journey
- Certificate of recovering from Covid-19 sometime in the past two to nine months
It is quite easy to get PCR tests in Greece and for much less than what many places in the US may charge for quick turnaround.
The best strategy would be to try to head to an island right after arrival if it is still within your original test you needed to travel to Greece (as long as it has been no more than 72 hours before departing for the island).
Restaurants are now open for outdoor dining and since many restaurants in Greece already had situations like this, you will definitely be able to find places to eat. I mean, during the summer, not many people are choosing to eat inside unless it is really hot outside!
There are limits of 4 people to a table and there is no music through the rest of May. Cafes are also open for outdoor seating.
Museums and Archeological Sites
Museums and archeological sites are now open as well but with capacity limits so make sure you check which ones you are planning to go to so that you know what to expect for the limits and hours of operation. Remember, mask use will be required.
Managed beaches opened up last weekend so you should not have a problem finding a beach when you arrive! However, umbrellas are mandated to be set 13 feet apart with the chairs under them so things will be much more spread out.
This means if you are going to a beach bar/cafe to use their umbrellas and services (which only requires that you buy some drink or food from them – in many cases), expect to find them more crowded in the middle of the day. The Greek people have been waiting a long time to be able to head back to the beaches so they will certainly be doing this. With the amount of tourists that are coming, things could get crowded. So, either get there early or get a hotel/rental with a private beach.
Returning to the US
If your flight leaving Greece is with Aegean, you can book a Covid test through them for between €40 – €60 and get the results back in a day. This test is sufficient for returning to the US. Failing this, you can also get tests at Athens airport or Thessaloniki airport as well as at private clinics. A rapid Antigen test typically costs around €20 while a PCR test is around €60.
Greece is opening to tourists from all over tomorrow, May 15. Ahead of this opening, Greece has dropped many of the restrictions that have been in place throughout the country for over 6 months. This is certainly good news for all tourists but also for everyone that lives in Greece!