Since coronavirus cases are climbing again, some things are changing in Greece. If you have travel plans to Greece this month, here are some of the things to expect. It is important to note that the cases are still low compared to other countries (record high the other day of just over 200 for a total 5,600 with over 650,000 tested) but Greece wants to keep it from getting out of hand.
What to Expect for Traveling to Greece in August
Link: Greece Health First
August in Greece is what many travelers want to experience – beautiful sunshine, hot weather, and awesome beaches and water. Due to its popularity, August is also one of the most expensive times to visit places in Greece and places are packed.
This year, prices have dropped some from previous years (though not as much as many Greeks would have hoped) and the islands are not as crowded as a typical August. If you are going to beaches in the beautiful Halkidiki or anywhere else in northern Greece, you can expect that those will be pretty full as locals are forced to ditch thoughts of traveling holidays this year, due to the economy.
Before your travel, download the Visit Greece app, available for either iOS or Android!
Of course, people travel to Greece from the US are still very few and far between as a regular American tourist is not allowed this year (though some have used some European loopholes and crossed through various borders).
But, Europeans can still enter Greece but testing is required for people traveling from some countries. With the addition of Malta, starting tomorrow, here are the countries from which travelers will need to show a negative PCR test for Covid-19: Bulgaria, Romania, and Malta. Starting from August 17, visitors arriving from Sweden, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic will also require a negative PCR Covid-19 test.
The passenger will have to show the test results from a test taken not longer than 72 hours before entry into Greece.
Starting August 17 as well, ALL travelers entering Greece via land borders will need to show a negative PCR covid-19 test as well, including Greek citizens. These tests need to have been taken in the country they are coming from.
Testing Available at Airports
Thessaloniki Airport will join Athens Airport in providing Covid-19 tests for anyone that needs a test for travel. Those tests are €70 and the results will be provided within 6 hours of taking the test. This can be helpful for anyone departing from Greece that needs to show a negative PCR test for travel.
But, for travelers from the above countries, you will still need to show a negative test before entering Greece so those will not work for you on entering Greece.
Complete Your PLF Form!
All travelers flying to Greece must fill out the Passenger Locator Form a minimum of 24 hours before entering Greece. It is important that you do this and receive the QR code that is messaged to you before the flight. Without this code on your phone, you will not be allowed to fly and enter Greece.
Also, many passengers on some of the low cost carriers have been turned away for not including their middle initial on the PLF form. The form says this is optional but many passengers were turned away for not including it – make sure you match your travel ID!
When you arrive in Greece, you will need to show this QR code. This will tell officials which line to send you in and whether you need to be tested on arrival in Greece. This testing will be free for the traveler.
What Happens if You Test Positive for Covid-19 While in Greece?
The Greek government has said they will pay for all hospitalization for any visitor that tests positive for Covid-19 while in Greece. They are also working with airlines for any passenger that tests positive to help them be able to take a later flight without incurring significant penalties.
Early Closures Starting to Happen
As a result of the climbing covid-19 positives, bars in many regions (Crete, Eastern Macedonia, Thrace, as well as the regions of Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Larissa, Corfu as well as municipalities in Mykonos, Paros, Antiparos, Santorini, Volos, Katerina, Rhodes, Zaykynthis, and Kos) will now be closed from midnight until 7am.
In addition, all events that have attendees stand (instead of sit) will be banned throughout the country. This includes all concerts and any events in which people normally stand. In addition, the region of Larissa now has even tighter restrictions that require all people to wear masks in public at all times – including outdoors.
Traveling on a Ferry?
If you travel by ferry, know that you are required to wear a mask no matter where you are on the ferry. At present, that rule is in effect until August 18 though it is likely to be extended.
Hotels and Restaurants in Greece
Hotels are operating with much stricter protocols than you may be used to in previous visits to Greece, of course. This includes mask use in public areas and pool closure hours that are more limiting than before.
In addition, the food service in hotel restaurants and breakfast areas is no longer self-serve and the food is handled from behind shields.
Restaurants are not as limited as they once were so feel free to enjoy yourself with some amazing Greek food and breathing in the refreshing sea air! But, be prepared for enforcement to occur of closures of indoor restaurant areas or limits on the number of people sitting at a table if a certain island/area sees numbers climb again.
Greece is still beautiful and there is a ton to enjoy. But, while tourists are fewer and farther between than normal, there are new safety protocols in place that you will have to observe or be fined. The Greek police have not been shy with fines, especially for things like masks in buildings (which is required and faces a €150 if violated).
Just be aware of the limitations and enjoy your time in the beautiful land of Greece!