Since the end of summer of 2019, Greece has had various restrictions in place that required both citizens/residents and visitors to do certain things in response to Covid. Over the last couple of months, these have slowly been suspended and as of May 1, most covid restrictions have been suspended!
Greece Drops Many Covid Restrictions
On March 15, Greece stopped requiring travelers to fill out the Greece PLF (Passenger Locator Form) that had been a requirement for traveling to Greece for almost two years. Now, as the hoards of summer tourists begin to come to Greece, Greece has suspended a number of other Covid restrictions.
Which Covid Restrictions Did Greece Suspend?
The big one is that travelers are no longer required to display proof of vaccination, a negative test, or proof of recovery to fly into Greece. This is huge because the airlines were the ones that had to first check and make sure that these requirements were met which meant very long lines to check documentation. I think our last trip saw me waiting in line about an hour in Newark – and then again in Germany before finally arriving in Greece.
This means that things should more or less roll along like they used to in regards to lines at airports for flights to Greece. Also, for those that needed tests, it means quite a savings on the cost of tests. The company we have used, Sameday Health, charges $95 in our region for a rapid antigen test and $160 for a PCR test – that would never have arrived before we needed it to depart. That meant we would have had to pay $250 for the rapid PCR. The last time we flew to Greece, Greece was requiring everyone, vaccinated or not, who was over the age of 5 to get tested. That cost really added up!
The next restriction that is gone now and also big is no one needs to show proof of vaccination or negative test to enter shops, restaurants, cares, or entertainment venues. Previously, everyone needed to have either proof of vaccination or a negative rapid test less than 24 hours old to enter shops. To enter restaurants or cafes (to sit indoors), customers needed to have proof of vaccination. This is another big restriction to lift since the lines outside of stores for these checks can be quite long and move slowly, if the person doing the scanning has an old phone or the lighting is bad (for scanning the QR code). I just recently had to wait almost 10 minutes for the security guard to actually make it work on my form. So, no more lines and no more tests and everyone is welcome again!
Yet another restriction that was suspended is that venues and businesses are now allowed to fill up to 100% capacity. With some pretty severe limits in the past, this will be great for the summer of these owners as it will allow people to enter right away instead of waiting in lines at popular places. Also great for restaurants who had available seating but were not allowed to seat people. While some may have ignored this at times, failing to abide by those restrictions meant that a business owner would be fined a minimum of €5,000 and closed for a minimum of 10 days and the police were constantly being told by superiors to make control stops at these businesses.
What Covid Restriction Still Exists?
For now, the only big one that is left is the use of masks indoors and on flights. There is some talk that this may be lifted for most indoor spaces on June 1 but, as of now, if you are on a flight heading into Greece or in an indoor space, you are required to wear a mask. One area of this that I am not positive about will be on the non-stop flights from the US to Greece. Mask use is no longer required on US flights unless the country of destination requires it. But, Greece is much more lax than the US authorities when it comes to requirements so many it will not be enforced? Or not until entering Greek airspace (which really wouldn’t make any sense either!).
Now, I can say for sure that this is far less regulated by shop owners in villages than it used to be. Most do not care if people are wearing one or not and will only put one on themselves if a customer entering wears one. A lot of Greeks are ready for this one to be lifted so we will see if the government follows through on earlier talks and lifts it at the end of this month.
What is all the “Suspended” Language?
My multiple uses of the word “suspended” was not just a word – it was a choice because that is exactly what has happened with these restrictions. The government has made it clear that these restrictions are currently only lifted until August 31 at which point they will decide if they will snap them back or continue to go on a week-by-week/month-by-month basis.
This means that if you have travel to Greece planned between now and September 1, you can expect the above restrictions to be lifted. After that? We will have to wait and see.