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Greece to open to tourists in May with key provisions

Greece plans to open its country to tourists in May IF they are either vaccinated, carry antibodies or test negative to Covid 19.

They are currently ramping up vaccines to tourism workers.

https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/greece-reopening-vaccinated-travelers-summer-travel#:~:text=Greece%20plans%20to%20welcome%20fully,in%20time%20for%20summer%20travel.&text=This%20year%2C%20Greece%20hopes%20to,that%20number%2C%20The%20Guardian%20reported.

Posted by
5648 posts

With one in six Greeks involved in tourism, the country is clearly putting an emphasis on getting the industry running again. The article says Greece wants to at least realize 50% of its pre-pandemic tourism level this year. It also says:

In line with its effort to restart tourism, Greece will begin vaccinating tourism workers once it has completed the elderly and medically vulnerable populations. Vaccination rates are expected to ramp up in April, when large shipments of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer are scheduled.
COVID-19 cases have been rising in Greece — on Tuesday, more than 3,100 new cases were reported, making it the third-highest daily tally since the pandemic began a year ago, according to the Greek Reporter. As a result, officials have extended the lockdown in Athens until at least March 16

... Interesting that J&J and Pfizer are due in Greece next month. Is the remainder of the EU in on that, too? Doses issued per a pre-determined proportional allotment?

Also, it’s interesting that tourism workers appear to be Greece’s next level of front-line citizens, after the vulnerable elderly and medically compromised.

Last, it’ll be interesting whether the lockdown in Athens gets modified 2 days from now, and if April vaccinations happen in time to open the country on May Day. But how does a tourist prove they were vaccinated, and when? Or that they’re carrying antibodies? Where, how, and when does the negative test take place, and how are those results presented upon arrival in Greece?

Posted by
13707 posts

Frank II. Excellent news. Hawaii had sort of a good system. Sent your test report to a website and they gave you an entry code. Pretty direct and simple, but one more thing for the border guys to check. I pegged Greece, Spain and Portugal to be first to open, lets see if I was correct. I am sort of hoping once there is one crack in the wall, many will appear.

For my upcoming trip to Ukraine in a few weeks, they just want to see a piece of paper with the PCR test. I will get it when I land in Istanbul. They also want COVID insurance which they conveniently sell on the national website. Cost is about 3 euro a day. Another sort of smart thing.

Posted by
5695 posts

I am sure those involved in the tourism sector will want to see international tourists return. I wonder if the rest of the population will be quite so welcoming?

In the tourist hotspots in the U.K. last summer, many places put up placards saying “go home, we don’t want your germs”. Will this be seen in other parts? I want to go places where I am welcome.

Vaccinations and negative PCR tests are all a sensible step forward but not infallible. Residents of the smaller islands and towns without a decent medical service could be concerned. As with all countries, it’s a difficult balance between protecting the health of the population and the economy.

Posted by
13707 posts

I am sure those involved in the tourism sector will want to see
international tourists return. I wonder if the rest of the population
will be quite so welcoming?

When you live in a country where 25 to 30% of the nations economy is dependent upon tourism you might be inclined to have an opinion that is different that someone who lives in a country where that number is 10 or 15%.

In the tourist hotspots in the U.K. last summer, many places put up placards saying “go home, we don’t want your germs”. Will this be seen in other parts? I want to go places where I am welcome.

Most likely so. But ask yourself who is putting up the sign? In the
US it might be the retired person on Marth's Vineyard and not all the
people who feed their families by providing service to the tourists in
Martha's Vineyard. But like you, I dont want to be where I am not
welcome and it wont take much to keep me away.

Vaccinations and negative PCR tests are all a sensible step forward
but not infallible. Residents of the smaller islands and towns without
a decent medical service could be concerned.

And it is up to their governments to regulate that.

As with all countries, it’s a difficult balance between protecting the
health of the population and the economy.

Do not forget that "health" and "economy" are not totally separate constructs. If there is not balance, they both decline.

Posted by
6003 posts

While this article does not go into details, before us in the US book our tickets, the focus is on German and UK tourists, and others in the EU, not the US. Greece would need to work with their EU/Schengen partners to move the US to the list of countries allowed for non-essential travel. They could try to buck the rest of Europe, but seem to view European tourists as the main audience.

Posted by
13707 posts

I think the sticking point is the Schengen treaty, not the EU. But I could be wrong, the EU may have oversight too. Of course that doesn't explain:

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli and Greek officials agreed Monday to clear the way for vaccinated tourists to travel between their Mediterranean nations in a bid to boost their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic. This is from February 8, and I don't know if they have worked out the details or implemented it yet. On the other hand, Romania which is also an EU country has opened its doors to tourists with vaccines; reportedly US citizens too (but double check that).

This is very interesting too: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/vaccinated-travelers-in-demand/index.html

Posted by
11432 posts

The Greek opening for tourists is for ALL tourists not just those from Specific EU countries. (I have read numerous news reports and none have said it is limited to EU tourists. And the UK is neither EU nor Schengen.)

Greece also announced today that nearly 800,000 workers in the tourism industry and island inhabitants will get higher priority in getting the vaccine. Nearly 1 in 5 Greeks work in the tourism industry.

Posted by
2927 posts

I find these discussions interesting. Selective reading? When I came upon this, I had just finished reading an article from a medical professional that indicated international leisure travel should not utilized for another 1-2 years. If I find the link, I'll put it here. I reviewed the CDC, which says Greece is at a high risk and travel to Greece should not be undertaken; as are other allegedly open or allegedly soon to be open countries that I thought to review. I know my BA voucher has just been extended to 2023 with no prompting. I suspect tourism opening, means more local EU tourism at some point, first. Kind of like interstate travel is opening here in New England without quarantine. While being fully vaccinated has opened up small groups and the ability to see grandchildren, it does not seem much else is recommended at this time. I tend to listen to USA medical and group recommendations versus some other country. Of course, recommendations can change at any time and I will continue to review them. I will continue to read many sources, not just one source. We all want to hope for a rapid return to "normal", but that process is also a rollercoaster.

As my mother used to say to me, "just because you can, doesn't mean you should". LOL

Posted by
974 posts

Unfortunately infection rates are on the rise in a number of European countries including Greece, especially major cities like Athens & Thessaloniki. I think May is wishful thinking.

The islands and more rural areas of the mainland are doing better but as long as infections are rising anywhere in Greece that will affect whether the EU/Greece starts opening up to foreign travelers.

Here in the US the vaccine is becoming available and people are getting vaccinated and rates/deaths have dropped but there are still many people who refuse to wear face masks, practice social distancing and are gathering in large crowds for Spring Break.

I've booked a flight to Greece for early October based on the availability of the vaccine in the US but unless the vaccine is more wide spread in Europe and other countries that will determine international travel this summer.

I think late summer/early fall would be more likely but depends on vaccination rates world-wide.

Posted by
11432 posts

I post facts. I don't post opinions. I don't post "I thinks." I post news articles from legitimate news sources.

If Greece says they plan to open to tourists, they plan to open to tourists. If you "think" differently with no proof then it means nothing. If you interpret it to mean something different without proof, , then that is the same as "I think." If the officials talk about two or three months from now and you talk about what is happening today as if it will be the same, that also makes no sense.

And if Greece opens to tourists, no one is putting a gun to your head forcing you to go.

Remember, these officials aren't just pulling these dates out of their heads. They confer with experts and look at projected rates of the virus and projected rates of vaccination.

Posted by
1581 posts

The next six weeks will be telling here in the US. Spring break revealers will no doubt cause a spike here. I hope not!
I just wish everyone could be patient and let the countries of Europe get their vaccine levels up before the masses arrive!

Posted by
13707 posts

I reviewed the CDC, which says Greece is at a high risk and travel to
Greece should not be undertaken; as are other allegedly open or
allegedly soon to be open countries that I thought to review.

Allegedly open? You mean I "allegedly" visited? Hmmmmm

More good new Frank II. You are just full of it this week. Thank you.

Spring Break will most definitely increase the infection rate. The number of individuals under 25 that that die from COVID may increase from the current 800 to maybe 900. If you are in a high risk group, age or otherwise, you would be wise to wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from others; especially the youth, until we see what happens. That way you will be safe and help ensure there is room in the hospitals for the party kids.

Posted by
2927 posts

James, Actually, if I visited a country, ‘allegedly’ would not be the appropriate word as I would know the facts. In addition to no longer discussing different ideas, I guess we all need to speak the same on these posts now also. Noted. But not going to happen.

Posted by
15037 posts

There's been talk here of travel to Greece and I am sure there are thousands of Israelis who would go sooner than later - I'm one of them. However there are very few international flights permitted and only Israeli citizens are allowed entry to Israel. In the meantime I haven't heard that any details have been worked out.

Last spring after the first lockdown, when Covid numbers were low in both countries, Israelis were allowed to travel to Greece, only to 3 or 4 specific locations, including Athens and Heraklion. The rules were:

  • apply for permission from the Greek embassy (there were strict limits on how many tourists would be allowed to enter per week - something like 1000)
  • get a negative test no more than 72 hours before the outbound flight
  • get tested on arrival and quarantine for 24 hours
  • if the 2nd test is negative you can then travel within the area
  • if you want to go to another approved area (flights only) . . . rinse and repeat.

There were strict limits on how many tourists could visit at a time

Posted by
974 posts

Pay attention to the news.

The infection rates are rising dramatically in many places in Europe which will more than likely alter plans for tourism.

Common sense tells me the planned opening in May was based on the vaccine rates going up and infections coming down.

I THINK that may have been wishful thinking on many EU countries!

Posted by
13707 posts

Pay attention to the news.

The infection rates are rising dramatically in many places in Europe
which will more than likely alter plans for tourism.

Common sense tells me the planned opening in May was based on the
vaccine rates going up and infections coming down.

I THINK that may have been wishful thinking on many EU countries!

TommyK5, you could very well be correct. Especially if the infection rate is the sole basis of their decision. That may or may not be true. There are a few countries wide open with active tourism marketing campaigns that have high infection rates. As for the numbers, there are some out there, like Agnes, that have a good handle on them. I gave trying to figure it out a long time ago. Way too many variables in definitions, conditions and reporting accuracy and standards. For me, its wait and see. What ever will happen, will happen, when it happens and not before.

Oh, and can someone post a link that shows the infection rates by country.

Posted by
13707 posts

Thank you Ufkak, I looked. Not what I was expecting to see. Probably because I dont know who to interpret it. Will be interestng to see what happens when the weather warms up.

Posted by
11432 posts

Greece plans to open on May 14. Today is March 17. That means there is about two months until Greece plans to open. (They are not planning to open today, tomorrow or even next week.)

By looking at was is happening TODAY as a basis of whether or not Greece should open two months from now is like looking out the window TODAY, checking the weather and using today's weather to decide if you need an umbrella on May 14.

Do you really think the Greek government didn't consult with their own Health deparment regarding their projections for the future and use that to come up with an opening date?

If you want to see what a difference two months can mean, look at the link Ufkak posted. Look at the number of cases in the U.S. two months ago compared to the number of cases now. The number has dropped drastically. Why? We have been vaccinating full tilt. Once Europe starts getting into a better flow of vaccinations, their numbers will drop as well.

Posted by
1581 posts

Do you really think the Greek government didn't consult with their own Health deparment regarding their projections for the future and use that to come up with an opening date?

I would hope so but we all know our government ignored our government health experts recommendations. So who really knows for sure.
Time will tell.

Posted by
13707 posts

Do you really think the Greek government didn't consult with their own
Health deparment regarding their projections for the future and use
that to come up with an opening date?

Frank II, I am certain they did. And I suspect that they might have been wise enough to "follow the science". That would be the various fields of science dealing specifically with COVID, as well as economic science especially in how it relates to short and long term physical and mental health, maybe the science of sociology and human interactions relative to health and sanity. If they were smart they looked at science far beyond transmission rates and did the right thing. Or maybe someone said, "we should open while there is still something TO open". Or maybe they just screwed up and Greece will end up looking as bad as New York and the Prime Minister can write a book.

Posted by
332 posts

I want to thank Frank II and James for all the info they are posting on here. If you don't like the information, don't shoot the messenger. The next 12-24 months could possibly still be very tricky for those who want to travel, feel safe to travel (which is a personal decision) and decide that the restrictions where they plan to go are palatable for their style of travel. I personally plan to travel SOMEWHERE this summer. I've had both vaccine shots and will make my decision on where it is I go based on the current health situation in that country, their entry restrictions, rules about travel and tourism once you get there, etc. What helps me make that decision is other people posting what the current information is about international travel. We're not going to be able to pack our bags, buy a ticket and hop on a plane for a while without going through some amount of extra planning, and that's what I use this website for.

Yes, most of the information being posted or linked to is what "might happen" or "is being planned". That's the current situation. We're all smart enough to figure that out.

Thank you to all those people that are being helpful!!

Posted by
13707 posts

The map is from the point of view of the American traveler. Assuming that is correct, I guess the CDC doesn't think the vaccine works.. Not really sure why the map. Doesnt the CDC still recommend against ALL travel. Which is it?

I noticed even for the low risk countries the CDC recommends ignoring the local guidance for social distancing; and to utilize the US standard of 72" (the WHO says 39" while most countries I am familiar with are using 59").

Posted by
5648 posts

Paul & Melissa, that’s a really fascinating Website link, thank you! The current date on the link says it was last updated March 15. I wonder if it’s updated weekly? And how are things going over on the east side of town?

James E., mixed messages, indeed. Even the USA is in dark red, although the alphabetical list for Level 4 countries doesn’t say USA - except for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, which are listed. But using the color code, CDC is saying don’t be in the USA. That’s sobering. As for distance, I’m trying to maintain more than 6 feet wherever I go, even outside. My current comfort zone is way more than a meter or two.

Africa, however, gas quite a few shades of orange and brighter red - doing better than the USA, it appears.

Posted by
15037 posts

It was announced a few days ago that Greece would be open to vaccinated Israeli tourists from April 15 - still waiting to hear details.

Posted by
13707 posts

Cyn, I think we are pretty much in agreement. First there is local law. Second there is the request of the property owner (store, shop, restaurant, etc). Third, and most important there is consideration for the feelings of others. No big deal to keep some distance and wear a mask in circumstances where it makes my neighbor more comfortable. But that map is a mistake. Its that sort of thing that just confuses the situation; a situation plagued by confusion. How in the world does Cameroon know their infection rate with half the certainty of France?

Good news is so far the vaccine seems effective against the variants..... Now we just need to get it into more arms around the world.

Posted by
6876 posts

Assuming that is correct, I guess the CDC doesn't think the vaccine
works.. Not really sure why the map. Doesnt the CDC still recommend
against ALL travel. Which is it?

James, your conclusions are bizarre. The map corresponds to specific definitions for each Level. Read what they say, and the thresholds for each. Granted the CDC should have designed that page a lot better so one can easily link to the legend to understand exactly what was (and wasn't) being measured. It has nothing to do with vaccinations or their perception of effectiveness; rather with transmission (cumulative cases) measured over a 28-day moving periods for two population classifications (destinations < 200,000 and destinations >200,000)
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/how-level-is-determined.html

"Travel Health Notice Thresholds
CDC reviews data reported to the World Health Organization to determine a destination’s COVID-19 THN level.
THN thresholds are based on the number of cases of COVID-19 in a destination.
Primary criteria for destinations with populations over 200,000
Incidence rate (cumulative cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population)
New case trajectory (have new cases increased, decreased, or remained stable over the past 28 days?)"

Posted by
974 posts

In the end it may not matter what the CDC says about international travel.

It will be up to the EU/Greece whether they will allow foreigners into the EU.

Having said that if the US can continue with it's vaccination rate of more than 2 million a day it may make it more likely for the EU to allow Americans in later in the Summer or early Fall.

Posted by
13707 posts

Agnes, I was about to say my logic has been questioned by better than you. But that’s probably not true. You are pretty brilliant. Suffice to say my logic proves I would make a great government employee.

Okay, to begin with it is titled: “COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination” at a time when the CDC does not recommend travel.

Presumably since the CDC is American, the recommendations are for Americans. Then why color the US, we are already here? Unless it is to indicate that maybe we would be better off from a health point of view if we traveled to Uganda (yellow); as opposed to staying in Texas (red as part of the US). Okay, it’s a bench mark I assume.

Then I think a significant number of people will doubt the rankings of countries like Uganda since there is a high likelihood that they really don’t do the same level of tracking as, say France. Wouldn’t it provide more confidence to leave those countries Grey? Otherwise it is a bit like the CDC is certifying those numbers?

Then back to the US in red. I suspect that many states, or some at least, would be something other than red if looked at independently. Given the size of the US that would be one rational for showing the US by state, the other rational would be, that since this is presumably for US citizens and since we do most of our travel domestically and since this is a domestic agency, maybe showing the states would be very helpful?

Anything in this circumstance is not in my mind better than nothing. It only helps to erode confidence in the whole of the organization at a time when a lot of their logic is already in question.

By the way, I confess, I have pushed my April trip to mid-May.

Posted by
55 posts

So just curious here. How many here, once fully vaccinated, would consider still traveling to Greece once it is opened (possibly) in May, even if the CDC recommends against it? I have to admit that my wife and I are seriously tempted!

Posted by
974 posts

I booked a flight for Sept. 30-Oct. 15, 2021 back in Dec 2020.

Once I knew there would be vaccinations available I felt more confidant that the virus would be greatly reduced if most people were vaccinated.

I felt Spring/Early Summer would be wishful thinking and more confidant that late Summer/Early Fall would be best. ( I go to Greece in October anyway)

In the US the vaccination rates have gone way up and it is expected that possibly by late Spring most people who wanted to get vaccinated would do so.

On the other hand the final decision to allow Americans into the EU/Greece may be out of our hands and hopefully EU/Greece will let people in who are fully vaccinated.

I hear Israeli's will be allowed into Greece in April if they are vaccinated and without testing or guaranteeing!

Hopefully that will be the case for Americans. Time will tell.

Posted by
11432 posts

Paul & Melissa....I would.....but I'm not.......not because of Covid but because of the heat. I hate very hot weather and Greece will not exactly be cool starting in June. I do hope other countries slightly further north do open to the vaccinated.

Posted by
15037 posts

I'm seriously considering a visit to Greece now, if I can get flights for April.

Yesterday on the news - Greece is open for fully vaccinated Israelis as of today, PCR test required - not clear if I can do the test here before I leave or if I have to do it on landing and then be holed up somewhere until the result is back.

Posted by
13707 posts

I do hope other countries slightly further north do open to the
vaccinated.

Albania is further north, has cool mountains and is open to people who are vaccinated. And, people who are not vaccinated.

Posted by
21289 posts

Greece is experiencing a second wave right now. I'd be concerned that internal restrictions might be imposed that would limit activities available to visitors and residents. That's not so much of a risk if you just want to lie on a beach, but few Americans travel to Greece with that as the primary goal (I think).

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/greece/

While nowhere near where the US was at its peak, the current infection rate in Greece is roughly about double ours. I think the odds are better for a trip later in the year (Greece has given 14.42 vaccinations per 100 people vs. 38.34 in the US), but all countries have to hope they don't get hit with a variant that defeats the vaccine(s) they're using.

Vaccination stats from OurWorldInData.org

Posted by
1313 posts

Not sure if people are aware there is currently an overnight curfew everywhere in Greece from 21.00 to 05.00. I’d be surprised if it’s lifted before the end of April. It was only raised from 19.00 to 21.00 at weekends this week.

I’m keen to get back as soon as I safely can, but the curfew would make it a very different experience. We’re generally just going in to eat around 9!

Alan

Posted by
974 posts

In America the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is now saying International Travel for vaccinated Americans is now allowed without testing before you leave. You still will have to test negative before your flight home.

However, it's still up to the EU/Greece to allow Americans in and that may be with some restrictions like a test or even quarantine! Still waiting to hear from Greece on what restrictions will be imposed for vaccinated Americans (hopefully none)

You can get the info here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html

Posted by
15037 posts

I was starting to get excited about the prospect of a relaxing week or two on the islands . . . Crete, maybe Santorini (sans crowds), Paros. . . now that I'm allowed to visit (fully vaccinated Israeli). So I went to the tripadvisor Crete forum and decided that it is NOT going to happen. What's the point? The island (and probably all the rest of the country) is locked down, no cafes or shops are open, schools stilled closed, etc.

Here at home, I can visit with friends at home, go out with them to bars and restaurants, shop in a mall, visit a museum or a national park.

I'm still hoping to visit the US in a few weeks, but that's primarily to see friends and family, many of whom are already vaccinated. Fingers crossed that there won't be a severe worsening of the Covid situation in the meantime.

Posted by
974 posts

It depends on when you are going?

I wouldn't go now or even spring/early Summer.

I'm booked for early October and I think by then Greece "should" be open for fully vaccinated people and hopefully enough Greeks are vaccinated to make most of the shops, markets and tavernas open.

Even if I have to wear a face mask I'm planning on going IF Greece allows Americans in. That's the big "IF"!

Posted by
15037 posts

Greece is a 2-hour flight for me (Athens, Crete, Rhodes, Corfu . . . take your pick) and the same time zone. All I need is a lifting of local restrictions and I'm ready with a fortnight's notice.

Posted by
15037 posts

James, I don't think it'll be before fall. Greece is too hot for me in summer and I don't see the Covid situation looking up over the next 3-4 weeks.

I would consider combining Greece and Budapest in Sept/Oct . . . . 🤞 for vaccine success.

Posted by
13707 posts

I haven't been to Greece in many, many, many ..... I mean MANY years. Might be fun.