Greece To Allow Travellers From 29 Countries Starting Next Month

Greece announced on Friday that it will reopen its borders to travelers from 29 countries from 15th June. The list does not include the UK or the USA. Visitors to the country will be subject to random coronavirus testing.

Aegean Airlines A320 at Thessaloniki Airport
Thessaloniki is one of the airports opening up to international tourists. Photo: Getty Images

Greece opens doors before peak season

As reported by Reuters yesterday, visitors from 29 countries will be allowed to enter Greece from 15th June. The move comes as the Greek government looks to mitigate the damage to the economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The timing enables Greece to benefit from the peak season for holidaymakers.

The 29 countries included are Albania, Australia, Austria, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, New Zealand, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, and Finland.

The Greek Tourist Ministry said that visitors from these countries could travel to Greece on direct flights to Athens and Thessaloniki in the north of the country. Furthermore, Greece will expand the list of eligible countries on 1st July as it monitors and evaluates developments related to the coronavirus.

The first phase does not include the UK

The first phase of permitted countries doesn’t include the UK. This appears to contradict an implication made earlier by tourism minister Harry Theocharis. According to The Telegraph, he said the following:

“Greece would do everything in its power to ensure Britons were among the first international sun-seekers to return.”

If the UK can bring its coronavirus cases down to acceptable levels over the next few weeks, British holidaymakers may be allowed to return to Greek resorts in the second phase in July.

Santorini view
The Greek Islands are opening up to tourists. Photo: Maggie Meng via Flickr

Random tests for visitors to Greece

Travelers arriving in Greece could be subjected to random sample testing for coronavirus. Additional safety measures are being implemented across the country. These include limits on capacity in resorts and hotels, and every hotel should have a designated doctor.

Altogether, thanks to Greece imposing a strict lockdown early in the coronavirus outbreak, the number of cases has been relatively low. The country has had less than 3,000 confirmed cases and a total of 175 deaths.

However, opening the borders to international visitors does bring risks. Dr. Spiros Sapounas told ITV News the following:

“We believe that it’s inevitable we are going to have a case during the summer from the increase of tourism, but we hope that we are going to contain it and take all the necessary measures to avoid the spread.”

Greek Islands also open to tourists

As Greece tries to salvage its summer tourist season, ferry services to its islands have restarted. Since the March lockdown, the islands had been off-limits, but now bars, cafes, and restaurants are open for business.

Social distancing measures are being imposed on ferries and in restaurants. On the island of Santorini, Perspex screens are being installed around sun loungers to help sunseekers to keep their distance.

Aegean A320
Aegean revealed its new livery before the lockdown. Photo: Riik@mctr via Flickr

Greece grounded planes in March

Greece grounded almost all aircraft from 26th March. One of the last flights from Athens was a unique Japan Airlines service to collect the Olympic Flame. Sadly, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have also fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, Condor and Lufthansa announced last year that they were launching new routes to Greece in 2020. A month before the lockdown, Greek airline Aegean Airlines revealed its new livery for its aircraft. However, the airline has not had much chance to show off its brand new look.

Will you be among the first to head for the Greek resorts?