Greece is a standout in Europe with the coronavirus – they have a relatively small number of cases with the current total at 2,566 and the number of deaths at 138. That is just amazing considering how their neighbors in southern Europe (Spain and Italy) have fared with this virus.
Greece’s Plan to Reopen the Country
Part of this may have to do with how fast Greece locked things down. The first case was reported at the end of February and they began to limit some things shortly after that. Thirty seven days ago, they went into pretty much a nationwide lockdown. It was not as severe as Spain, Italy, or even France but it did greatly limit movement.
Current Movement Limitations
For example, people were not allowed to leave their homes unless they had filled out an official form (or sent a text) detailing which of the 6 accepted reasons they had to go out. Beaches were shut down, hotels were shut down, and finally even all the stores were closed.
The only things currently open are some banks, some restaurants (for takeout or delivery only), some cafes (again, only delivery or takeout), and grocery stores. Everything else has been closed. Oh, and if you are caught outside without that form and ID, the fine is/was €150!
The Plan to Resume to Normalcy
Tonight, the Greek Prime Minister outlined the plan for reopening the country. For many people, Greece will offer the best opportunity for people seeking a beach destination in Europe, though this would not be until at least July. Also, there is talk of a health passport that visitors will need to have to show they had been tested and given a clean bill of health.
There is hopes that there will still be a tourist season that will last from July until September and possibly stretch into October. Here is the schedule that has been set forth for the reopening, but keep in mind that if cases start to surge, this will be revisited.
- May 4 – people will be free to travel with the area (prefecture) that they reside in without needing to fill out the police form or send a text message
- Also, small retail stores (like beauty salons and bookstores) will open as well as churches (but only for people that go in by themselves for prayer)
- May 11 – some schools will reopen (for those in the grade for ages 16-17)
- May 17 – churches will reopen but there will be strict rules in place
- May 18 – Other grades and classes will reopen
- Also, people will be free to travel anywhere within the country, with the possible exception of traveling to the islands (will remain for residents only)
- June 1 – shopping malls and department stores will reopen and restaurants will be allowed to host guests
- Hotels (that are normally operating 12 months a year) will reopen
- Domestic flights will start up again
- Entertainment and sport arenas will be open (but things like sporting events will either be canceled or held without spectators)
As you can see, it will still be gradual and it will happen bit by bit. Foreigners should not plan to come here for a while yet as the country reopens. If everything goes according to plan, it could be okay to visit starting in July. But, keep in mind that Greece still may limit those coming from certain countries, depending on the status of the virus in those countries.
Other European countries will soon be announcing their plans to resume their lives to a more normal state as well. I would expect that, again, Greece will be a model for them as this progresses.