All those that had their hearts set on a summer destination have been watching Greece. Not only is Greece an amazing vacation destination with beautiful beaches, fantastic food, and a multitude of ancient places to visit, but they were also the country that had done an admirable job in their handling of the coronavirus. Due to that, their reopening has been watched to see who would be allowed to enter Greece and when. As of today, we now have the latest information about that and what it will be like!
Greece Is Opening to the World!
As first written about by Gary at VFTW on Saturday, the Greek government updated their rules on who would be allowed to enter just one day after limiting the first wave of visitors to those from these 29 countries. This was a surprising turn on policy and one that many people did not even know about until last night or today (Greek border agents included). But, it was a good move since there would still have many problems with the previous policy and now this new policy will allow everyone – with some restrictions along the way.
Phase 1 – Until June 15
As all of the EU external borders are closed until June 15, the same is true for Greece to visitors outside of the EU (with exceptions that can be found in this post). Not only that, but until June 15, all international flights will only be operating into and out of Athens airport. Any visitors coming to Greece will be tested upon arrival and will need to stay in a designated hotel (I am not sure which one yet) overnight until the result comes back. When it does, if the test is negative, then the passenger self-quarantines for 7 days. If the test is positive, the passenger is quarantined under supervision for 14 days.
Phase 2 – June 15 – June 30
This is a transition phase of sorts that will see the northern city of Thessaloniki open their airport to international arrivals as well as Athens. However, it does appear that countries that were not part of the originally cleared 29 will not be operating their flights into Thessaloniki (just last night, Turkish Airlines canceled all their scheduled flights between SKG and IST until July 1). So, keep that in mind as many international flights will continue to just go through Athens.
During this phase, any visitors will be welcome to come to Greece. However, there will be testing required for any passenger that has originated from an airport located on the EASA affected area list (see that list here). In case you don’t want to read it just yet, know that 22 US states are on that affected list. These include major states where most people would likely originate. For passengers originating from the cleared list, there will only be random tests.
As with Phase 1, those tested will need to stay in a designated hotel overnight while their tests are processed. If the test is negative, the passenger will self-quarantine for 7 days. If the test is positive, the passenger will need to be quarantined under supervision for 14 days.
Phase 3 – July 1 and On
From July 1, Greece will really be open to everyone. While there will still be certain restrictions for travelers from specific countries (that will be detailed closer to July 1 – most likely similar to the standards above for earlier phases), only random tests will be occurring. Also, at this point, international flights will be able to arrive at other Greek airports as well, like the popular island airports.
How Will All of This Work?
I am scheduled to fly back to Greece shortly after June 15 (leaving Greece June 15) so I will get to observe first-hand how these procedures will be handled (and will certainly do an update post regarding them). At this point, there is not any word on things like how the testing process will be handled (ie, how long it will take, how passengers will be processed, especially when arriving from a Schengen country, which hotel(s) will be used and how that will handled for the visitors and more).
But, know this, if you depart from an airport in an area that is on the EASA list (which will be updated frequently so make sure you check that), expect to be checked for the virus and have some kind of quarantine for at least 7 days if arriving before June 30.
What Will Be Open in Greece?
Greece is opening up very quickly and ahead of schedule in some areas. As of today, open-air cinemas, primary schools, public swimming pools, golf courses, and year-round hotels have just opened (June 1). They have joined the many areas that have opened prior to this like outdoor seating at restaurants and cafes, shopping malls, beaches, stores, and more.
While year-round hotels can open today, many have chosen to wait even longer to open. This is due to lack of interest and zero international tourism at this point. As for the seasonal hotels, those will be opening July 1. These hotels are the very popular ones in the islands and certain mainland hotels.
In other words, by the time the world starts arriving (or at least many people!) on and after July 1, Greece will have opened up everything. While things will be markedly different from past summers (due to social distancing which will affect places like private beaches, clubs, restaurants, etc.), it will still be the same beautiful Greece as it has been for years!
One thing to make note of with hotels. Part of the new guidance for handling the COVID-19 health situation is that hotels will be following the newly implemented times of 11:00 for checkout and 3:00PM for checkin. While this may sound similar to normal checkout/checkin times, it appears that this will be more enforced now to give housekeeping staff the time they need to make sure that all room changes are kept to new standards. This may impact chain hotels for which you have elite status as well – I will be putting this to the test in just a couple of weeks so will update on that as well.
I will be doing more posts in the coming weeks as things develop here in Greece as well as giving some more information for those wishing to travel to Greece. Let me know in the comments any questions you may have and I will do my best to cover those in future posts as well as answer them here!