Authorities in Greece will impose localized lockdowns in Thessaloniki and Serres from 0600 Nov. 3 in an effort to combat a spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. The lockdowns will be in effect for at least 14 days. International and domestic flight services at Thessaloniki Airport (SKG) have been suspended for the duration of the directive. Additionally, curfew hours have been extended to 2100-0500, with individuals performing essential work duties or seeking medical attention being exempt.
Authorities previously tightened domestic COVID-19 restrictions on Oct. 24. A daily 0030-0500 curfew is in place in all areas considered high-risk or designated as "orange" (level 3) or "red" (level 4) in Greece's four-tier tracking system. Individuals performing essential work duties or seeking medical help are exempt from the curfew. In addition, facemasks are mandatory in all outdoor public areas nationwide. As of Nov. 2, Ioannina, Kastoria, Kozani, and Magnesia are designated as red areas, with Rodopi, Larissa, Trikala, Viotia, Thira, Naxos, Attica, and Athens being designated as orange.
Domestic restrictions vary according to local COVID-19 case rates. The city of Kozani in the north of Greece is under lockdown until Nov. 6; all gatherings in public and private spaces are suspended, travel outside the region is also suspended. In the Attica Region, including Athens and surrounding areas, public gatherings are limited to nine people. Indoor cinema and theater productions are suspended. In Attica, Halkidiki, Chania, Lesbos, Zakynthos, Heraklion, Pella, Pieria, Imathia, and Kilkis, as well as the municipality of Mykonos, public catering, entertainment, and many retail businesses must stay closed 2359-0500 in addition to complying with limits on the number of patrons allowed inside such establishments at a time. Elsewhere in the country, public gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted. Dining facilities and entertainment venues must remain closed 2359-0500. All persons must wear facemasks in all indoor and outdoor public areas.
Authorities recently extended an international entry ban for non-EEA nationals until at least Nov. 8. Several categories of people are exempt from the prohibition, including healthcare workers, permanent residents of an EU or Schengen Area country, diplomats, student visa holders, seasonal workers, passengers in transit, freight transporters, and the crews of ships, aircraft, and trains.
Citizens of Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay are exempt from the travel ban. Israeli, Russian, UK, and United Arab Emirates citizens may enter, though they must produce evidence of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. All arrivals from Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Spain must also present a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
International arrivals are not automatically required to undergo a mandatory quarantine period; however, before departing for Greece, travelers may be required to complete the Passenger Locator Form - a detailed declaration providing their contact details, country of origin, and travel history over the previous 15 days. Authorities conduct targeted COVID-19 testing of arriving travelers based on information provided in the declarations. Anyone testing positive for the virus could be required to quarantine for 14 days in government-provided accommodations. Persons entering the country through the border crossing points of Kakavia and Krystallopigi must self-isolate for seven days upon arrival; freight transporters are exempt.
Any restrictions could be reimposed, extended, further eased, or otherwise amended at short notice, depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
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.
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.