Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Greece extends restrictions on flights with six countries until May 15 due to coronavirus activity. Other restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Greece

This alert began 15 Apr 2020 18:17 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Coronavirus-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Greece have extended their existing ban on commercial flights to and from Albania, Northern Macedonia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the Netherlands through at least May 15 as part of the nation's effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Commercial flights from Germany may only land at Athens International Airport (ATH) through May 15. The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is allowing certain exceptions to the flight restrictions, including medical flights; designated flights for repatriating Greek citizens or permanent residents; military, cargo, emergency, and humanitarian flights; and aircraft arrivals during which no passengers are disembarked.

In addition to the flight restrictions, the nation's stay-at-home order remains in place through at least April 27. Residents must obtain permits to leave their homes; authorities are only issuing permits for travel to essential work, medical necessities, food shopping, family emergencies, attendance of funerals, and religious or cultural ceremonies, personal exercise, and dog-walking. Emergency services personnel, armed forces personnel, and religious leaders are exempt. Failure to comply with the restrictions will result in a fine. Police have deployed heavily, particularly in Athens and Thessaloniki, to enforce the measures.

All businesses, except supermarkets, fresh food stores, pharmacies, and fuel stations, remain closed. National rail operator TrainOSE has cut back services nationwide; public transport services in Athens remain significantly reduced, and the Athens Ring Road remains closed. All hotels are closed until at least April 30; Airbnb and similar services are unaffected. Authorities closed educational facilities until April 27. Public gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited; officials banned residents from visiting parks, playgrounds, sports arenas, and other outdoor recreational areas. Authorities also implemented a ban on large events and conferences until April 5, though this is likely to be extended. Although authorities have banned all religious services, places of worship remain open for individuals.

Non-EU and non-Schengen Area citizens are prohibited from entry until at least May 15, with the following exceptions:

  • Family members of EU or Schengen member-state citizens
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Third-country citizens who are permanent residents or long-term visa holders of an EU or Schengen Area country
  • Diplomats, military or international organization personnel, humanitarian aid workers in the performance of their duties
  • Flight crews
  • Persons on imperative family or business travel with authorization from a Greek consulate

The borders with Albania, North Macedonia, and Turkey remained closed until further notice. Airlines are operating a significantly reduced service across the region. All international ferry services remain suspended; ferry services between the Greek islands and the mainland continue to operate for permanent Greek residents only. All travelers, including Greek nationals, who arrive from any foreign destination must self-isolate for 14 days or be subject to a fine and/or enforced quarantine.

Authorities could introduce additional measures in response to disease developments in the country.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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.

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.

Travel Certificate Forms:

World Health Organization (WHO):