It was a big blow to many Americans with family in Greece or vacation hopes for Greece when the EU ruled that people from America were not welcome when the EU opened their borders on July 1. Well, that could change for Americans and Greece in the coming weeks.
Greece May Be Open to Americans… This Summer
There was some noise that Greece was a leading voice in opposition to keeping Americans out and that Greece may even go ahead and still open their borders to people from America. In the end, they followed the European Commission’s recommendation and kept the doors to Americans closed.
Greece May Be Open – Depending on the Data
For a country within the Schengen Zone to open their own borders to a people that the EU/Schengen has agreed to keep out means that internal borders would be closed or limited. For Greece, this is nothing new as they had been allowing people to enter Greece from Qatar, for example, throughout the time that Europe had external borders closed.
Greek spokesman, Stelios Petsas, said yesterday that Greece is open to welcoming Americans yet again, as soon as by the end of July/first of August. “Depending on the development of epidemiological data, we will consider opening to other countries, such as the United States, from the end of July.”
Still Some Requirements for Americans or Others
This does not mean it is a slam dunk decision for Americans to visit but that if the data starts to trend the right way, Americans could find Greece open to them in just a couple of weeks. But, it will not be as easy as buying a plane ticket.
Mr. Petsas also said that travelers from America and similar countries would be required to pack a negative Covid-19 (PRC) test, taken within the previous 72 hours. Many locations are requiring this now and this could be the biggest problem for Americans since some testing sites are way backed up.
While it would be possible to grab a test enroute in country which had an airport offering this, (like Germany and Austria), they could pick up such a test on a long layover, it is probably not best to do this. If the traveler tested positive, they would then be at the mercy of quarantine laws in the country they happen to be in at that point.
Balancing Tourism vs Risk
Greece has done a great job of containing the virus and incorporating check points for it for visitors that visit (see my experiences entering Greece in June). At the same time, this is what is also bringing some concern to locals. Two-thirds of positive tests on some days this past week (where a high day is 60 positives) were found at the border of Bulgaria/Greece.
It is a careful balance for Greece – with international flights into some airports down a staggering 70% from last summer, they need to get tourists back again. But, they also do not want to be dealing with a full-blown outbreak of the virus if visitors bring it in. Fortunately, Greece has a great plan in place for tourists and this could help mitigate the risk of something like this happening.
If you are an American itching to visit Greece, don’t buy a plane ticket yet. But, also do not write off the hope of visiting Greece sometime in August or the fall months (which Greece is just still calling “summer” for this year!).