Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Greece eases COVID-19 restrictions from June 1; mandatory quarantine for travelers extended until June 15.

This alert affects Greece

This alert began 01 Jun 2020 20:17 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Easing of COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: From June 1
  • Impact: Easing of restrictions; travel and business disruptions remain

Summary
Authorities in Greece have eased additional restrictions as part of the nation's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) recovery plan, allowing hotels, pools, and golf courses to reopen from June 1. In addition, elementary schools and daycare facilities will reopen June 1; the school year will be extended to late June, and kindergartens will open until July 31.

Until June 15, authorities indicated that international flights are only permitted to and from Athens International Airport (ATH). All travelers are tested upon arrival and must stay overnight at a hotel designated by authorities. Passengers that test negative are required to self-quarantine for 7 days, while passengers testing positive are required to be quarantined under supervision for 14 days. Flights between Greece and Albania, North Macedonia, and Turkey are banned through at least June 14. The borders with Albania, North Macedonia, and Turkey remain closed to passenger traffic until further notice. Airlines are operating significantly reduced services across the region. All international ferry services remain suspended; cruise ships remain banned from landing in ports in Greece. The ban on non-EU and non-Schengen Area citizens entering the country is also extended through June 15.

After June 15, international flights will continue to be allowed into ATH and also into Thessaloniki Airport (SKG). From then on, travelers from countries that are not on the European Union's Aviation Safety Agency's (EASA) list of areas with a high risk of transmission will only be subjected to random checks; travelers from countries on the EASA list are obliged to follow the existing protocol of testing, and self-isolation based on the results of the test. Authorities indicated that they will cover the expenses of tourists that test positive.

Bars, cafes, and restaurants were allowed to reopen starting May 25. Inter-regional travel restrictions have also been lifted and regularly scheduled domestic ferry services have resumed. Authorities have lifted their ban on private boat and yacht travel; however, passengers arriving from another country must complete a health declaration and be tested for COVID-19 at their own expense. The government plans to allow seasonal hotels to reopen from June 15.

Authorities had earlier lifted other restrictions, allowing many cultural sites to reopen. Malls and shopping centers, as well as places of worship, were also allowed to resume operations. Gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited, and protective face coverings must be worn on public transport.

Any restrictions could be reimposed, extended, further eased, or otherwise amended at short notice, depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The easing of restrictions by the Greek government is in line with actions undertaken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the beginning of the summer tourist season, and a decrease in COVID-19 infection rates. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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