Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Greece to reopen six ports for cruise ships from Aug. 1; other COVID-19 related restrictions remain in place.

  • Alert Begins: 29 Jul 2020 05:42 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 04 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Greece will reopen the ports of Piraeus, Rhodos, Iraklio, Volos, Corfu, and Katakolo Aug. 1 for cruise ships, after barring such ships for more than four months in order to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Ships will be allowed to visit any of these ports after completing clearance at the first port of entry. Sources indicate that Greece will abide by EU guidance for restarting cruise ship operations, and will likely recommend that cruise ships operate at 60 percent of the maximum passenger capacity. Mandatory checks for passengers and crew will include thermal screening and the submission of a special health declaration to be completed before boarding at the port of origin. This measure is likely an attempt to restart Greece's tourism sector, which is vital for the country's post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

Previously, authorities in Greece tightened land borders until Aug. 4 due to an increase in disease activity in neighboring countries. Essential travel to Greece is only permitted at the following border crossings:


  • Border with Albania - Kakavia, Krystallopigi


  • Border with Bulgaria - Promachonas, Nymfaia


  • Border with North Macedonia - Evzoni


  • Border with Turkey - Kipi


A number of air entry points were previously reopened to international travel as part of the country's COVID-19 recovery plan. As of July 1, all of the nation's 27 airports, as well as seven seaports, are open. Travelers from the EU and 18 non-EU countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, South Korea, and Tunisia, are allowed entry. Nonessential travel from certain countries with high risk for COVID-19, such as Israel, North Macedonia, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Serbia, Turkey, UAE, and the US, will remain banned.

Authorities are also requiring passengers arriving by air from Bulgaria and Romania to present a negative COVID-19 test - no older than 72 hours - until Aug. 4. Greek nationals and permanent residents, as well as those traveling for essential purposes, are exempt from this measure. Authorities indicated that they put the measure in place after increased COVID-19 activity in these two countries.

While travelers arriving in Greece will not be subject to a mandatory quarantine period, they will be required to complete a detailed declaration providing their contact details, country of origin, and travel history over the past 15 days, among other information. Authorities will conduct targeted COVID-19 testing of arriving travelers based on information provided in the declarations; persons testing positive for the virus may be required to quarantine for 14 days in government-provided accommodations. All travelers to Greece must abide by the country's social distancing guidelines and wear protective face coverings on airplanes and at airports, on public transportation, and in certain business establishments.

The government has allowed most businesses to reopen. Inter-regional travel restrictions have 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.

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 taken 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.

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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