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Greece Will Reopen to International Travelers in July—Without Quarantine

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The Greek government is rolling out a step-by-step approach to easing its coronavirus lockdowns and reopening the country’s beaches, archaeological sites, hotels, and restaurants.

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The Greek government is rolling out a step-by-step approach to easing its coronavirus lockdowns and reopening the country’s beaches, archaeological sites, hotels, and restaurants.

The country is easing its coronavirus lockdowns, allowing hotels, restaurants, and beaches to reopen in phases. Soon, tourists will be allowed to enter the country without taking a coronavirus test or remaining in self-quarantine.

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After six weeks of strict coronavirus lockdowns banning all nonessential movement across the country, Greece has started to gradually reopen its economy with a two-month plan to welcome travelers back this summer.

In a national address on Wednesday, May 20, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced June 15 as the official start date of Greece’s tourist season, saying direct international fights to the country’s tourist destinations will resume gradually from July 1. From that time, travelers will be allowed to enter Greece without taking a coronavirus test or remaining in quarantine, but only travelers from countries with acceptably low rates of virus infection will be permitted, Mitsotakis added. It hasn’t been specified exactly how those perimeters will be determined.

Greece’s beaches and archaeological sites reopen to the public

Mitsotakis first announced the government’s cautious scheme to ease its coronavirus restrictions—which went into effect nationwide on March 22—at the end of April. Starting May 4, the country’s “low congestion level” shops and services, such as bookstores, electronic stores, and hair salons, began to reopen. During this first phase, Greeks were also granted permission to exercise individually outdoors, gather in groups of up to 10 people, and travel freely within their region of residence with some exceptions (travel between the mainland and Greek islands remains prohibited until May 25). 

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From May 11 to 17, schools and religious spaces were allowed to restart their operations, followed closely by the country’s archaeological sites, zoos, shopping malls, and botanical gardens on May 18. Still, social-distancing measures will be enforced: It remains mandatory to wear a mask on public transportation, in taxis, and when visiting public shops, per government guidelines.

On Saturday, May 16, more than 500 beaches reopened across Greece, but with strict rules: Until further notice, ticketed entrance is required at all Greek beaches to record the number of attendees, which cannot exceed 40 people per 1,000 square meters (10,765 square feet). The use of sun umbrellas is permitted, but each covering can only host up to two sunbeds (except for families with minors), and the minimum distance between umbrella poles must be at least 13 feet, according to a government-issued manual. Additionally, swimming is permitted, but group sports are forbidden and beachfront businesses can only offer takeaway service for packaged products (alcoholic beverages not included.)

Greek restaurants, bars, cafés, and hotels are soon to follow

Starting May 25, Greece’s restaurants, bars, and cafés can start welcoming visitors (which comes earlier than the initial June 1 date following positive recommendations from the Infectious Disease Committee at the Greek Ministry of Health). Year-round hotels can reopen as soon as June 1, followed by seasonal hotels on June 15 and international flights from July 1.

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The plan, Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theoharis says, is to welcome tourists back to the country for the end of the summer travel season. Tourism is a major income earner in Greece; last year, the country’s travel industry brought in 34 million visitors and over $19 billion in revenueStill, “This season is not going to be like the other years,” Theoharis explained in a statement to Reuters. “I would be a fool to believe that this could ever be the case. However, there is a lot that we can do to reopen the tourist economy.” 

In his initial televised address to the nation, Mitsotakis said that the Greek government will review its rolled-back measures every 24 hours to monitor for possible outbreaks of the coronavirus. Still, it’s expected that large gatherings such as festivals, concerts, and sporting events will be canceled through summer. “Our emergence from quarantine will be done step by step,” the Greek prime minister said in his statement. “No one can rule out the risk of the threat rekindling.” (When lockdown restrictions began to ease on May 4, there were 2,632 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 146 related deaths in Greece, according to data from Worldometer.) 

While the country’s step-by-step approach to reopening provides a glimmer of hope for eager travelers, it’s important to note that Greece’s borders remain closed to non-EU countries until July 1. Additionally, it’s unclear when the travel restrictions put in place in mid-March for travel to Europe (as well as from Europe to the United States) will be lifted. However, a Global Level 4 Health Advisory is still in effect for the United States, advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel for the time being.

This article originally appeared online on May 4, 2020; it was updated on May 21, 2020, to include current information.

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