Today marks the start of month 6 of the lockdown in Greece. It went into affect last November and, except for some limited shopping windows, has seen most businesses shut down during that time. Yet, the Greek government still insists that the borders will open to tourists from all over the world in less than 6 weeks.
Greece Is Entering Month 6 of Lockdown
The Movement Restrictions in Lockdown
Lockdown fatigue is very real in Greece. People are completely tired of being confined to their homes (except for some limited exceptions – more on that below) while also having the majority of businesses continue to be closed.
There was a short time when regular stores had been open but capacity limits were in place and forms still had to be carried (or SMS sent) for police to check to confirm you were in compliance with the movement restrictions.
But, at this time (except for some areas in and around Athens and a few other places), most of the stores in Greece remain closed. Deliveries still go out but it is not possible to go shopping at stores. The only stores open are supermarkets – grocery stores.
Even with these stores, anything which can be normally purchased at other stores (such as towels, plates, small toys, books, etc) is off limits with tape and covers blocking those things on the shelves. This is to protect the stores who are not allowed to be open from losing business for these items to the grocery stores.
Movement Between Municipalities
Just this past weekend, it was now made legal to drive for exercise. Before this, you were not allowed to take any form of transportation for the purpose of exercise. Now, on weekends, you can drive to different municipalities for exercise.
Also, domestic air travel is not allowed except for emergencies, essential travel, or traveling to one’s permanent place of residence. For international travel, residents and citizens of Greece must fill out the same PLF (Passenger Locator Form) that people need to fill out before entering – but residents and citizens must also fill it out before departing Greece. Upon arrival (and there are only 10 countries who’s citizens are allowed to enter Greece right now, other than EU countries), proof of a negative PCR test must be shown and everyone must self-quarantine for 7 days.
Only Places Open
Restaurants are still only allowed to be open for takeaway or delivery and there is a very small number of people allowed in any of them at any one time for ordering and/or pickup. The same is true for coffee shops.
So, at present, except for certain locations that the government has determined that are not in crisis mode due to shortage of Covid beds in hospitals, the following businesses are the only ones open: hair salons, beauty parlors, restaurants and cafes (for delivery or takeaway), supermarkets, mini markets, gas stations, and banks. No shopping malls are open anywhere.
Filling Out a Form for Movement
Before anyone is allowed to go out, even for a walk, they must either fill out a form like the one below or send a SMS to 13033. The reasons on the form are the only reasons you are allowed to leave your home and you must have that authorization form with you. Also, for shopping, the limit is 2 hours in some parts of the country and 3 hours in others (in those locations, you use a different SMS number).
Yet, Tourism Is Still Opening on May 14
In spite of all this, Greece is remaining steadfast in their commitment to open the county for tourists from around the world as of May 14. Obviously, there is a lot that still needs to happen in Greece before this happens. This includes the full opening of hotels, tourist sites, transportation modes like ferries, shopping malls, and restaurants.
At this time, Greece is saying that they are looking at the outdoor opening of restaurants after the Orthodox Easter (May 2). That is less than 2 weeks before tourists would be welcome and they still do not have a date when those restaurants will actually open for sure.
Yet, they are saying that hotels that offer dining will operate as normally – it will just be the regular restaurants throughout the country that are not allowed to open until after May 2 (and that just being outdoor dining, which, is pretty awesome in Greece anyway).
Israeli tourists have already been entering the country but they have their Israel “Green Passes” that show that they have been vaccinated or have fully recovered from Covid-19. The deal between Greece and Israel allow for 10,000 Israelis to enter the country per week. With the “Green Pass”, they do not need to be quarantined on arrival.
They also are allowed to move around freely while Greek citizens are not (Israelis still need to fill out those forms but are allowed to travel between municipalities).
Even while Greece starts their 6th month of lockdown, the Greek government is still insisted that the doors will swing wide open for tourists from around the world in just over 5 weeks. What will those early days of tourism look like? This remains to be seen.
For sure, there is a lot still in flux in Greece. Even when things do reopen more, the government will still shut it back down if cases surge. For the record, the cases have been higher in the last two weeks than at any point during the pandemic. While the testing positivity rate has been around 5%, it has gone over 10% on some days.
I still hold to my original advice – found in this post – that I would not encourage anyone to travel to Greece for tourism in May or early June, not if you want the full Greek experience.