Although it is getting closer to the announced opening date of the tourist season in Greece, the Greeks are very slowly revealing their ideas about what rules will be required from visitors.
Recently, Harry Theoharis, the Greek Minister of Tourism, said Greece had established five lines of defense against the coronavirus to safely open up to tourism. A large part of this security measure covers the conditions of entry of travelers into Greece.
However, this is nothing new compared to what we have already informed you about. These are still general assumptions, and more detailed studies still have to be made.
The first line of defense is the requirement to enter Greece, i.e. possession of a vaccination certificate, negative PCR test result or a certificate of recovery from the coronavirus, i.e. possession of antibodies. The new aviation directive, designed specifically for Israeli travelers, may suggest what the more detailed requirements for the first line of defense may look like in the future. Well, their vaccination certificates will be honored when 14 days have passed since vaccination. In addition to personal data, the certificate contains information about the type of preparation and the number of doses taken. Moreover, it must be written in English.
The second line of defense appears at the time of crossing the border, i.e. at airports, ports or border crossings leading to Greek territory. It is intended to be random testing of tourists arriving from markets where a large number of positive COVID-19 cases have recently been detected. People to be tested will be indicated by the national EVA system. These are to be quick tests, so the result is to be known in a short time.
If such a selected tourist obtains a positive result, the third line of defense appears, i.e. immediate quarantine and PCR test. Quarantined persons will be transferred to the designated hotel directly from the airport.
The fourth line of defense is a series of general safety rules, such as wearing a mask, keeping social distancing, and restrictions in restaurants, public transport, and on excursions.
The fifth line of defense will oblige tourists to obey the same rules that apply to the Greeks at the same time. For example, if Greek citizens are required to wear masks, tourists will also be required to comply with the same rule. It should be noted that last year, however, tourists had a greater slack in this regard.
In addition, all travel businesses will be required to adhere to strict health protocols. And the Greek government continues to give priority to the vaccination of workers in the Greek tourism sector.
Importantly, however, Theoharis says there will be no discrimination against unvaccinated people. Everyone will be able to travel (of course, taking into account the first line of defense), no one will create restaurants or hotels for the vaccinated and unvaccinated. “We want to create a safe environment for our guests. Because anyone who doesn't feel safe can't relax. We want to treat the people who come to our country as our family ”.
The Greek Tourism Minister also predicts that this year's season will be extended even until November. On the one hand, this is to be a response to the demand for trips to Greece, and on the other hand, in September the pandemic situation will look different than today, if only because of the progressive vaccination.
Although the official opening date of Greece is set for May 14, we can expect Greek doors to be opened to citizens from countries with high vaccination rates as early as mid-April. Even now, for vaccinated Israeli citizens, the obligation to undergo a 7-day quarantine, which is currently obligatory for all other persons crossing the Greek border, has been abolished.
Retail stores have been opened in Greece today, but they operate under special conditions. This move was decided not because of better pandemic indicators, because you can jokingly say that "the pandemic is doing well", but because of the great social fatigue with the restrictions.
It is expected that after the Greek Easter holidays, restaurants will start operating, but their operation will be limited initially to gardens. However, there are still at least four weeks until this step.
And when it comes to easing the remaining restrictions that are currently in force, politicians say it is too early to discuss limiting the blockades. Orthodox Easter falls this year on May 2, so many people wonder if the ban on traveling between prefectures will be lifted during this time. Experts make such a possibility dependent on the current pandemic parameters, which, as they emphasize, will be difficult to implement at the moment. Currently, you can only travel between prefectures for compelling reasons, such as work or health problems. And from April 3, movement is also allowed on weekends.
There is still a ban on movement between 7.00 p.m. and 5.00 a.m., and on weekends, the curfew starts two hours later.
Archaeological sites have been open to the public. Finally, Knossos in Crete is also open, which was immediately closed on the day of the official opening of the excavations, because the workers were infected with the virus.
From tomorrow, free Covid-19 self-test kits will also be available in Greek pharmacies. The first of them are to fall into the hands of students and teachers. The self-control strategy is to be the key to reopening schools.