Traveling to Greece

Millions in Greece Enter Hard Lockdown Today to Combat Virus Rates and Hospitalizations

grand hyatt athens
Written by Charlie

As cases spike and hospitalizations increase, Greece puts a lockdown in place for a region occupied by millions, which includes Athens.

The region of Attica in Greece (which includes Athens) enters a new phase of lockdown today, the “hard” lockdown, in an effort to keep hospitalizations low and to lower viral loads. This is a big step from the lockdown that has been in effect (in one way or another) since early November and is in response to the hospitalization rates climbing as well as the viral load doubling in recent days.

New Hard Lockdown for Millions in Greece

This version of the hard lockdown is similar to what was experienced back the spring of 2020 and is a blow to many in Greece as they head back indoors until the end of February. This hits the retail sector especially hard since February is traditionally a month of sales which helps retailers move stock and see profits rise. This year, retailers were actually low on stock for a variety of things since the lockdown was anticipated and they did not want to be stuck with more than they could sell.

At present, this hard lockdown is only for Attica (which is the region that includes Athens) and is in response to two factors – the shrinking number of hospital beds available as hospitalization rates climb and the doubling of the viral load that has been identified in the public sewers. This last part has doubled for Thessaloniki (Greece’s second largest city) as well but the hospital numbers there are not at the number yet that would call for a hard lockdown. Yet, it is expected that this could happen here as well.

This happens just a short 2.5 months from the time that many had hoped the tourist season could begin. Vaccination rates in Greece currently sit at 5% of the population and is moving slower than hoped for which may also affect the opening of the country on the hoped for timetable.

Here is what lockdown in Greece currently looks like as well as what additional measures are in place for Athens. At this time, even domestic air travel is only for essential purposes and people are not supposed to travel outside of the region of their permanent residence.

Notification of Movement

This was brought back in November and is a way to let the authorities know you are moving and that it is for one of the pre-approved reasons. This can be done through filling out and carrying a paper form or sending a free SMS to 13033 for one of the following reasons:

  1. Visit to a pharmacy or doctor
  2. Visit to a supermarket for store (if they do not deliver)
  3. Visit to a bank (if online transactions are not possible)
  4. Visit to help people in need or to escort children to/from school
  5. Attend a funeral or visiting children (in the case of divorced parents)
  6. Physical exercise or exercising a pet

Without having this SMS or paper, it is punishable by a €300 fine.


For much of the population of Greece, there is a current curfew in place that runs from 9PM to 5AM but extends on the weekend to 6PM. The only people that are allowed to be out after the curfew time are people who have permission from their workplace or those walking pets (not even exercise is allowed after curfew).

Masks and Distancing

Distancing of 1.5 meters between people must be observed everywhere (technically, even for exercise and walking pets). In addition, masks must be worn at all times in public places – that includes outdoors. The exception is for exercise.


While all regular shops/stores are closed in much of the country, supermarkets remain open. However, these supermarkets are not allowed to sell items that are sold in other shops that have been forced to close – like towels, pans, toys, etc. In addition, each person is only allowed to be out for shopping for a max of two hours which begins at the time you send and receive approval via SMS for your movement.

The allowance for the number of people in supermarkets/mini markets has been lowered as well – one person per 25 sq meters of space inside the location.

Eating and Drinking

For restaurants, bars, and cafes, they remain closed for any indoor consumption with exceptions for those that want to offer takeaway services or offer delivery.

Additional Restrictions for Attica

In addition to the above (which are restrictions for many places, not just Attica), there are limits on means of travel as well. For public transport, they can only have 65% capacity. Ferries can operate at 50% capacity with 65% if it has cabins. Taxis are only allowed two passengers and private cars are only allowed two people which includes the driver. However, in both situations, underage children are not included in those limits.

Florists will be open only for a system called “click-away” which allows people to pre-order and then pick up outside – but they can only be open for February 13 – 14. In addition, car repair locations can stay open but appointments must be made. Other than this, supermarkets, bakeries, pharmacies, pet stores, telecommunication stores (but only for paying bills and repairs), dry cleaning, and gas stations will be allowed to be open at any time.

Of course, all museums and attractions are closed during this as well.

Finally, only special education schools will be allowed to be open. All of this is subject to fines if the rules are violated, starting at €300 and climbing into the thousands for people that organize anything that violates the movement restrictions.

Bottom Line

Athens and the larger Attica region have entered into a hard lockdown today that is set to run until February 28. This is an attempt to drop the viral load and see the hospitalization rate decrease. With appearances of the South African variant, infection rates have been climbing and Greece is trying to keep it at bay while they continue their vaccination efforts. Greece’s Prime Minister says he sees light at the end of this tunnel but these measures are part of getting there.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Greece’s prime Minister has been seeing the light at the end of the tunnel since last March and here we are again…plain demonstration of insanity! Lock downs have been proving time and again that they don’t work. I am not a betting man but I predict the same “tunnel” vision excuses in September and then next year…and the one after that….

    • My personal opinion (based on being in the middle of everything here and seeing what people are saying) is that these decisions are made with the elephant of the summer tourist season in the scope of things. The economy is heading for a crash with hundreds of businesses already not reopening and tourism is the only way they can get a foothold against it all, getting outside money coming in. I think the PM is willing to push restrictions if it means opening in time for summer with hope for visitors – that is why he is not requiring vaccines for those coming. It was similar with last summer, most people knew a shutdown would come after the tourist season ended and it did – though not until November.

    • That’s too bad! I definitely think it will be open for business this summer. By then, most of the over 50 population (that want it) will have received the vaccine and Greece has been pushing for things to open up so I would definitely think it will be, by early June at the latest.

  • Was this a regional or national government decision? If regions get to decide for themselves if and when to do this, it becomes a lot more random like here in the US.

    • It was a decision made by the PM. His national health team met with him and he announced it a few hours later. In Greece, these lockdown decisions do come from the top with input from the local health officials, but it is all based on the data they are getting. For example, yesterday they determined through their sewer scans that there are between 80,000-90,000 carriers of the virus in Athens right now!