Greece is the country in Europe that people have been watching for a chance at a summer, European, beach vacation (if that is you, here are some tips for planning a summer trip to Greece). Here is where Greece currently is with their plans to reopen.
Greece is Opening – Here is Where They Are At Now and Where They Are Headed
Keep in mind that external borders into the EU are currently closed until June 15 – more details here
Greece had originally laid out this schedule for opening in phases but the opening has gone so well (as in very few new cases of the coronavirus as things have opened in the last couple of weeks) that they are slowly moving up some of their scheduled openings.
Beaches Are Open
One of the early things to open was last Saturday – over 500 public beaches opened and just in time! Temperatures hit all-time highs for this time of year and the roadways leading to those beaches were packed! Of course, social distancing was in effect. This meant that umbrellas had to be 13 feet apart as well as some service safety standards.
May 18 – Malls, Archeological Sites, and Ferries
On May 18, Greece opened shopping malls which is a full two weeks before they were set to open. While there are some regulations that shoppers need to observe (such as mandatory use of masks inside the stores themselves), shoppers certainly have not seemed to mind as they were able to enter the malls again after two months of closures.
Also on Monday, over 200 archeological sites (including the famed Acropolis) have opened to visitors again as well. Zoos and botanical gardens are now open as well.
In addition, ferries are now allowed to operate (though they will require that people fill out a questionnaire which you can find here – the page is in Greek but the forms can be accessed in English). However, at least until June 15, passengers will need to observe a social distancing of 1.5 meters and wear facemarks.
May 25 – Restaurants and Cafes
Restaurants and cafes are pretty much an actual part of Greek life. Not only is the food and coffee fantastic, but the eating and drinking is done in a joyous manner that is not rushed. It is not uncommon to sit with someone for a coffee or tea for several hours.
So, it is a good thing that these spots will open again for on-site customers in just one week. There will be a limit of 6 people to a table (unless the people are family) and 1 person per 2 square meters.
June 1 – Flights, Quarantines Over, and Hotels
More carriers are re-starting their flights to Greece including the Greek carrier Aegean Airlines. Aegean is ramping up their flights now with new measures that mean that all travelers booking new travel get the Flex fare. This gives a free bag under the plane and free changes.
Lufthansa will be adding their flights back and KLM just restarted their flights to Athens as well. Even better is that Greece has extended the quarantine policy to just the end of May! This is great news for all that are able to enter Greece as of June 1 since the 14 day quarantine will not be required after that (at least as of this time).
In addition, year-round hotels will be allowed to start opening June 1 as well. You can even book those hotels now while some may not start accepting reservations until a few days into June.
June 15 – EU Opens
The EU external borders are set to open on June 15 and barring any serious spikes between now and then, I think that is a hard date now. European countries need the rest of summer for tourists, even if it is just from fellow Europeans. But, that is the date everyone is eyeing now.
July 1 – Seasonal Hotels and Tourist Season “Officially Open” – if all goes well
This is the one that many vacationers are looking at – when those awesome seasonal properties in Instagram-famous photos start to open. The seasonal hotels (ie. hotels that are not open year-round) are the ones that are really in some of those advantageous places with gorgeous private beaches, etc.
Check out this article for some of the chain seasonal brands and where they are and their plans for re-opening.
This week or shortly thereafter, hotels will be getting the standards that they will need to operate by in this COVID-19 world so I will be covering that when we know more.
Greece has done a tremendous job in containing the virus and their response in their re-opening is something that many countries are watching with some hope. Things have gone well so far and I will be updating you from inside Greece with future plans!