Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Greek authorities to launch three-stage recovery plan to ease coronavirus-related restrictions starting May 4.

This alert affects Greece

This alert began 28 Apr 2020 16:38 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: From May 4
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Greece will implement a three-stage recovery plan over the coming weeks, gradually easing restrictions that had been implemented as part of the nation's effort to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The first stage will begin on May 4 and include the following measures:

  • Restrictions on movement within residents' home prefectures lifted; travel to other prefectures or to islands within one's home prefecture will remain prohibited.
  • Public gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed.
  • Individual (i.e. unorganized) outdoor sporting activities will be allowed.
  • Certain retails businesses such as book stores, sporting goods stores, plant nurseries/gardening supplies stores, and opticians' offices may open. Personal services such as hairdressers, barbers, and beauty salons may operate by appointment only. Personal fitness instructors may also operate provided they do so outdoors.
  • Residents will no longer require permits to leave their homes.
  • Houses of worship will reopen for individual prayer, with a maximum of 10 persons inside at a time.
  • High school seniors will return to school on May 11.

Authorities currently plan to initiate stage two on May 11, during which all other retail businesses, except for stores located in malls, will be allowed to reopen and students in other secondary education grades will return to school. Stage three, which is currently slated to begin on May 18, will involve the lifting of all remaining movement restrictions, as well as the reopening of museums and other cultural sites. Implementation of each stage of the plan, however, is contingent on no major increase in the rate of infections with COVID-19 in the country. Authorities may amend the recovery plan or any part thereof based on actual disease activity during the coming weeks.

In the meanwhile, TrainOSE rail services remain scaled back nationwide; public transport services in Athens remain significantly reduced, and the Athens Ring Road remains closed except for commuters. A ban on commercial flights to and from Albania, Northern Macedonia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the Netherlands is in effect through at least May 15. 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.

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 significantly reduced services 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.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Greek government are similar to 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.

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