Greece will begin opening to tourists June 15 and then open up to the world starting July 1. And once you can enter Greece, you can probably visit most of Europe.
With a population of around 10 million, similar in size to Sweden, Greece has had around 2900 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 175 reported deaths. They’ve been spared the worst of coronavirus, despite a culture like Italy’s not given to distancing. Their economy relies heavily on tourism. It’s no surprise they’re anxious to open up, even risking bringing more cases of the virus into the country.
Currently international flights are only permitted to arrive into Athens. Non-residents are tested on arrival, and must stay overnight at a specified hotel. If the test comes back negative, they still have to self-quarantine for 7 days. A positive test requires a 14 day supervised quarantine.
These policies will be rolled back in two phases, first on June 15 and then on July 1.
Restrictions Begin To Loosen June 15
Between June 15 and June 30 international arrivals will be permitted into both Athens and Thessaloniki. If you’re originating from outside of a high risk airport (which includes 22 U.S. states) then there’s no mandatory test. If you started at a high risk airport then the current procedure applies of testing on arrival and quarantine.
- Loophole: Starting June 15 you could start your journey in Nevada, Oklahoma, or one of 26 other U.S. states and enter Greece without more than the possibility of a random test. Of course they’re just looking at your flight reservation. Someone in New York might fly somewhere on one ticket, and begin their journey to Greece on another ticket from an airport not on the high risk list.
In addition land border arrivals will be permitted from Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria with the possibility of random testing.
Tourists Worldwide Are Welcome July 1
Beginning July 1 Greece will permit international arrivals into any airport, with just random testing on arrival. Arrivals by sea will be permitted as well. And while “[a]dditional restrictions regarding certain countries will be announced at a later date” it seems as though everyone, broadly, will be welcomed.
Gateway To Europe
Once permitted to enter a Schengen Area country – one of 26 countries in Europe that permit border-free travel under normal circumstances – it should be possible to enter other countries in that zone, provided those countries are accepting travel from other European nations which is expected.
So even if you can’t enter many countries of Europe by July 1, you’ll be able to fly to Greece, visit, and then in all likelihood continue to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and more.
Of course Iceland is also a Schengen Area country. If they permit Americans to visit with testing starting June 15, that’ll be an avenue to continue from there to other Schengen Area countries as well.
Greece Offers Access, Not Peace Of Mind
Alaska is looking to eliminate its required 14 day quarantine on arrival with either testing prior to departure for the state, or testing on arrival. The Maldives is looking at requiring 14 day stays and testing on arrival. The problem with testing on arrival is false positives. It’ll keep tourists away, worried that even though they don’t have COVID-19 they test positive – and they’re on the other side of the world when they do.
A week ago I wrote that coronavirus testing is a marketing tool, not just a safety measure. That’s because – while it’s a hassle for those that have to go through it – it’s also peace of mind that everyone else has been tested (false negatives notwithstanding). Greece is offering access, but not peace of mind.
Still, summer months with higher temperatures are peak tourist season. While humidity drops at this tie, it remains generally humid throughout the summer. Much of life occurs outdoors. The virus hasn’t been known to spread significantly on planes, and the summer months seem like an ideal time to socially distance in Greece.