If your holiday or winter travel plans involve going to Greece, the country’s Health Ministry just made an important change to Greece’s entry requirements which may impact your itinerary.
Beginning at 6 a.m. on Sunday, December 19, all travelers to Greece will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours or a laboratory rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of arrival in Greece, Mina Gaga, Greece’s Deputy Minister of Health, announced in a press conference. The testing requirement will apply to all travelers 5 years old or older regardless of vaccination status or method of entry to Greece.
An Evolving Situation
Nearly 64 percent of Greece’s eligible population is fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
That said, 196,733 new COVID cases were reported in Greece during November 2021, which was a monthly high during the pandemic, Johns Hopkins reports. Furthermore, 47,046 new cases were reported between November 14 and November 20, which was a record-high week in Greece for new cases, according to the data.
Importantly, in the past week, 32,327 new cases were reported in Greece, which is a significant decline from the previous week.
Nonetheless, while speaking at the Health Ministry’s news conference, Vana Papaevangelou, Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and member of the Committee of Experts, voiced concerns about the growing rate of positivity of the Omicron COVID-19 variant across Europe.
“We are all watching closely — from all over the international community — the new data regarding the possible effects of the prevalence of the Omicron variant. It is now clear that Omicron is already everywhere and will prevail in the coming weeks since the contagion of this strain seems to be higher than any other strain we have encountered during the pandemic,” Papaevangelou said. “This strain arrived in Europe just 2 weeks ago but already it causes more than 50 percent of new infections in the UK.”
Papaevangelou went on to add that 10 Omicron cases have already been identified in Greece, and that number is sure to grow in days to come.
Travel To Greece
The announcement that Greece is changing its entry policy to require proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours or a laboratory rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of arrival is so new that the details haven’t even been posted on the country’s travel website yet.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Greece note that the details should be released soon. It also urges U.S. citizens planning to travel to Greece continue checking the Greek government’s websites for updates.
You can do that here.
If you are planning to travel to Greece, Discover Greece, created by the Greek Tourism Industry, points out that travelers don’t need to wear a mask in uncrowded open places. The flip side of the coin, as you would expect, is that masks are required in congested outdoor spaces as well as in all public indoor places, including public transportation, shops, taxis, and hotel communal areas.
Also, keep in mind that outdoor entertainment venues including restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs are operating at a maximum capacity of 85 percent and only serve seated customers.
Indoor entertainment venues, including restaurants and cafes, nightclubs, music spaces, theaters, and cinemas require patrons to provide an official certificate of vaccination or recovery. Both paper and digital certificates are accepted.
Know Before You Go
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19” advisory for Greece, bluntly stating “Avoid travel to Greece.” The statement goes on to warn that “Because of the current situation in Greece, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”
Based on the CDC’s guidance, the U.S. State Department likewise issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for Greece. That notice simply states “Do not travel to Greece due to COVID-19.”
Be sure to read the rest of our Greece coverage, including: