Summer 2020: Holidays in Greece after coronavirus

Summer 2020: Holidays in Greece after coronavirus

A short guide on COVID-19 and Greek tourism

Greek summer is officially here and we are one step closer to our favorite islands! This year, due to the global pandemic, we have to be more careful and follow the official guidance and safety measures in order to ensure everyone's safety. On this page, we prepared a short guide with useful information for your holidays in Greece this summer, including for example: the way that hotels will operate, the safety and protection measures applied in air travel and ferries, the guidance for organized beaches, camping sites, taverns, restaurants, or cafeterias. 

The page will be constantly updated following any new announcements and guidance by the Greek ministries of Tourism, Shipping, and Health.

Sarakiniko beach, Milos island, moon landscape, sea, rocks, swimmers

Social distancing in the beach Sarakiniko, Milos island

Traveling to Greece this summer

This year, the summer tourist season in Greece officially starts on the 15th of June. From this date, international flights will be allowed to both the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki, while the land borders to Albania, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia will also open. 

Air travel in Greece

According to the official guidelines for the month of June, travelers from countries on the European Union Aviation Security Agency (EASA) affected area list, will be tested on arrival and spend 1 night in a designated hotel until they get the test results. If the test is negative, they are released and required to spend 7 days in self-quarantine. If the test is positive, they have to stay in strict quarantine under supervision for 14 days, and then re-do the test. 

Passengers that originate from an airport that is not included in the EASA affected area list, are subject to random tests upon arrival. The 29 countries that, up to this point, are considered safe to travel to Greece from, are: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, South Korea, Switzerland. 

Tip: The country of origination is the first flight on your travel itinerary. For example, if you travel from the United Kingdom to Greece via Switzerland, your UK flight is considered your origination. If your origination airport is on the EASA affected area list, you are subject to testing and quarantine as indicated above. If you are unsure of what applies to your country of origination, we recommend that you contact your country's embassy in Greece

Update 24/6: Due to the latest developments with COVID-19, passengers that arrive at the Athens International airport from Albania, Belgium, France, Italy, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden will all be tested on arrival. Passengers from other European destinations will be randomly tested. Passengers from non-EU countries will have to fill a Covid-19 Passenger Information Form, which includes personal details, their address while in Greece, as well as the country of origination.
The airport of Thessaloniki 'Macedonia', has a temporary suspension of flights until the 30th of June 2020 for the following countries: Albania, Belgium, France, Italy, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain. According to the instructions of the Ministry of Health and Civil Protection, all passengers arriving at the airport of Thessaloniki have to be tested.  

Update 6/7: All passengers that travel to Greece from abroad have to complete a Passenger Location Form (PLF) at least 72 to 48 hours before their trip. In this form, travelers state their personal details including their address of residence while in Greece. This is also the address where they should self-isolate until their coronavirus test result comes out (in the case that they have been tested upon arrival). Direct international flights are allowed to all airports in the country, excluding flights from the United Kingdom and Sweden (until the15/7). The country's northern borders remain closed, and entry is allowed only through the Promachonas Gate in the borders with Bulgaria. It is necessary for all travelers to use a face mask and maintain distances of at least 1,5 meters with each other. 

Island airports - international flights

Until the 30th of June, the only Greek airports that will accept international flights are the ones in Athens and Thessaloniki. During this period domestic flights operate to peripheral airports with limited itineraries. 

On the 1st of July, the country will allow international flights to Greek islands and other airports across Greece. Additional restrictions, measures, and screening methods are expected to be announced that will have effect from this date onwards. 

Tip: The use of a face mask is obligatory to all airports in Greece, during your stay at the airport, boarding, disembarkation as well as during the flight. Other instructions for passengers include the use of hand sanitizer, frequent and thorough handwashing, keeping distances, prefer contactless transactions wherever possible, and avoiding the use of lifts. 

Ferry travel in Greece

As of July 1, the country's sea gates are open for ferry trips from/to international destinations and itineraries from Italy to Patras and Igoumenitsa are operating again. 

Greece released ferry routes and transportations to all destinations across the country on Monday the 25th of May. Some of the safety measures that apply to all ferry travels are: 

  • Pre-boarding screening measures such as thermal screening to all passengers and the submission of a health status questionnaire by all passengers. 
  • Maintaining a distance of 1,5-meters by all passengers during boarding, disembarkation, and in all ferry spaces (indoors as well as outdoors). 
  • Bed cabins can be used by 1 passenger, except for families that can be up to 4 people in the same cabin or people with disabilities that can be accompanied by another person as well. 
  • The use of (fabric) face masks is obligatory for all passengers and members of the ferry crew. 
  • The passenger capacity of each ferry trip is calculated to 60% of the maximum capacity of the vessel, or 65% if the ferry provides bed cabins.
  • All ferries must provide hand sanitizers at the entrance as well as at several indoor and outdoor spaces and apply all the protocols of cleaning and hygiene.

You can find more information on ferry trips this summer on our relevant blog post, 'Ferry travel in Greece after coronavirus'.

Hotels and accommodation

Hotels in Greece reopen from the 1st of June, while all other accommodation types, including camping sites, will open on the 15th of June. The reopening of accommodation facilities comes with mandatory health and safety protocols to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission to employees and customers.

All hotels and accommodation establishments need to have the certification 'Health First', which proves that the business follows the official health protocols.  All hotel employees (including interns) have to wear face masks and disposable gloves, while the reception staff should wear a face shield or a mask. Also, it is required for all businesses to have a management plan in the case of a suspected COVID-19 case. 

The check-in and check-out times will be extended: Check out has to happen by 11 am, while check-in will be available from 3 pm in order to have enough time to air, clean, and sanitize the rooms. 

Other suggested safety measures include the maintenance of a distance between the customers, providing hand sanitizers in several spaces in the hotel, adding a plexiglass divider wherever needed as well as apply strict health and safety measures in restaurants, buffets, bars, and shared spaces. 

Sign in Santorini guest, no entry, hotel guests allowed, view, sea, flower pot

Hotel in Santorini, entry is allowed only to hotel guests.

Camping sites

Camping sites are also reopening from the 1st of June and they will operate under specific guidelines for the safety and security of their customers and employees. Here are some indicative measures applied by camping sites across the country: 

  • Tents and camper vans must be at least 5 meters apart on the entrance/exit of each accommodation type, and 3 meters apart on every other side. Also, it is necessary to maintain social distancing of 1,5 meters between people that do not belong in the same family or don't live in the same space. Upon arrival, customers must agree to and comply with the instructions and safety measures.
  • The entry to the camping site and the use of its facilities by non-authorized visitors or people who don't stay in the site is prohibited. 
  • The distance of 1,5 meters should also be maintained in the indoor spaces of the camping site, while customers should be wearing a face mask while using these spaces.
  • All sanitary facilities such as toilets, showers, sinks, changing rooms, must remain clean and sanitized throughout the day, following the official hygiene rules. Also, all common-space areas and facilities as well as rental equipment must be thoroughly sanitized on a regular basis. 
  • In the case of tent hire, it is necessary to keep the tents aired, cleaned, and sanitized between uses from different customers, following the health and safety guidelines. 
  • All camping sites need to have a printed protocol and management plan for dealing with a probable COVID-19 case. It is also recommended to post the indicated health and safety measures on the entrance and other places across the site as well as the official guidance for hand-washing and personal hygiene. 

Several areas in Greece, including small remote islands, have announced that this summer they will restrict free camping and make regular checks in order to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Beaches

Since the 16th of May Greece has reopened its organized beaches. Up to this point, here are some of the safety measures that apply to Greek, organized, beaches: 

  • The beach umbrellas (parasols) need to be positioned at a distance of at least 4 meters apart (from their shaft). 
  • Each parasol comes with no more than 2 sunbeds, except for families with children. Sunbeds in different parasols need to have a distance of at least 1,5 meters to each other. 
  • Under the current guidelines, no team sports that require physical contact are allowed at the beach.
  • Organized beaches that have an entrance fee need to calculate the maximum number of customers to 40 people for every 1000 sq.metres, and the business is obliged to keep a log of the visitors. 
  • The organized beaches staff is recommended to sanitize the sunbeds after each use, from different customers, while customers have to put their own towel on the sunbed. 
  • In beach bars and canteens, all customers have to maintain the indicated 1,5 meters distance, while the business employees are advised to wear a face mask at all times. Beach bars and canteens should primarily work with takeaway coffee, refreshments, drinks, and food, while music events or parties in the space are not allowed. 

Malia beach in Crete, sandy beach, sunbeds, parasol, sea, waves, first aid station sign

Following the safety rules: A parasol with two sunbeds on a beach in Crete.

Swimming pools

The swimming pools in hotels and camping sites, as well as outdoor jacuzzi tubs, will operate under specific health and safety instructions. For example: 

  • All indoor swimming pools and tubs will remain closed until further notice.
  • The chlorination and Ph levels of outdoor swimming pools and jacuzzis have to be constantly checked, while the surrounding spaces need to be cleaned and sanitized following the official guide by the Greek Health Organisation (EODY). The same applied to the common spaces, facilities, and equipment such as lockers, changing rooms, seats, menu, and price lists. 
  • The maximum number of people allowed in the swimming pool is 1 person per 5 sq.meters. 
  • Sunbeds, chairs, and tables around the pool must be placed so that 2 different umbrellas or two people staying in different rooms maintain a distance of at least 2 meters in every direction.

Restaurants and bars

From Monday 25th of May restaurants, cafeterias, bars, and food businesses re-opened in Greece following increased safety measures for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus. Some of the basic measures applied are:  

  • Before the opening, all businesses have to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, while all staff should be wearing masks and gloves.
  • Indoor spaces should be constantly ventilated, with fresh air circulation wherever possible, and the grouping of staff or customers should be avoided in closed spaces. 
  • Hand sanitizers for customers should be placed close to the till and the toilet, while all businesses should apply a trash management system according to the official guidelines. 
  • For the time being, all seating at restaurants, bars, and cafes is primarily outdoors. The tables and chairs should be allocated in a distance to each other (from 70cm to 170cm) and the maximum number of people seating together in the same table is 6 people.
  • It is suggested that all businesses have signs that inform and remind people of the personal hygiene rules, including handwashing, as well as of the safety measures such as maintaining distance or wearing a face mask. 
  • All surfaces need to be cleaned and sanitized often during the day, particularly surfaces for food preparation as well as where customers often touch (i.e. door handles, switches, handrails, staff/customer toilets).

Tavern next to the sea in the island of Aegina, tables of 4 people, boats, trees

Tables of 4 in a tavern by the sea on the island of Aegina. 

Rent a car

Traveling by car seems to be a very popular option for this summer in Greece. The rent-a-car businesses are obliged to follow specific rules to secure the hygiene of their vehicles and the safety of their passengers and staff. For example, all vehicles should be sanitized between uses by different clients, while the maximum number of passengers allowed in each car is 3 people (the driver plus 2 more passengers in vehicles with up to 7 seats). In the case of families traveling with children, the maximum passenger restriction does not apply.

Transport

Taxi: Taxis in Greece operate normally, however they apply a maximum passenger allowance: taxis with up to 7 seats can serve up to 3 passengers, plus the driver, and vehicles with up to 9 seats can transfer up to 5 passengers, plus the driver. This restriction does not include families with children. 

The use of a face mask is obligatory for both the driver and the passengers. Any violation of the above rules may be subject to a 150€ fine for both the driver and the passengers. 

Tip: Responding to the new health and safety needs, our partners Welcome Pickups offer the new service 'GoSafe' for port and airport transfer with their vehicles. With this new service, each vehicle will have free masks, gloves, hand sanitizers for the passengers, the driver will clean all the surfaces that passengers touch after each use, and have a 20-minute break between rides in order to properly sanitize and air the car cabin. Find out how to book your transfer from/to the port with Ferryhopper and Welcome Pickups and get a premium transfer service for your trip to Greece this summer. 

Public transport: The use of mask is mandatory at bus stops, metro platforms, and other points of waiting for public transport, as well as inside the vehicles and trains, both for the staff and for the passengers. 

Archaeological Sites & Museums

Most of the archaeological sites in Greece will extend their opening hours in order to avoid the grouping of large crowds in the site. The suggested opening hours are from 8 am until 8 pm and depending on the size of the site a specific number of visitors will be allowed to enter every hour. All visitors need to maintain safety distances of at least 1,5 meters, while the use of a face mask and hand sanitizer is also recommended. 

Museums will allow entry to a limited number of people every hour - a number depending on the size of the museum. Visitors should maintain a 2-meter distance at all times and the use of a face mask is recommended. Other recommendations include frequent sanitizing of the surfaces that visitors might contact, the use of dividers at cash registers, and museum entrances, having hand sanitizing stations at the entrance and across the museum spaces, as well as posted instructions for visitors on personal hygiene measures. 

Portara, Naxos, archaeological site, blue sky, port, ferry, island town

The archaeological site of Portara in Naxos - visitors at the site should maintain a distance of at least 1,5 meters at all times.

Open-air cinemas

Open-air cinemas in Greece open on June 1st with 75% of the total capacity and the screenings will take place without a break. Other protection measures include keeping empty seats amongst viewers, make one-way corridors, gradual entry and exit, and keeping distances of at least 1.5 meters. Cinema canteens will operate before, after, and during the screening to avoid overcrowding. The use of a mask by the customers is optional, while it is mandatory for the employees in the space.

Music gigs and performances

All live shows for the summer of 2020 (including music gigs, theatre and dance performances, etc) are expected to begin after the 15th of July and will only take place outdoors. Although several major music festivals and performances have already been canceled due to COVID-19, the shows to be held in the summer months must follow the following measures: The ticket availability must be calculated for a 40% venue capacity, the stage should be 3 meters away from the first row of seats and in case there are no seats (standing audience), a distance of 1.5 meters should be kept between the attendees.

Panigiria (Greek traditional festivities)

If you have been to the Greek islands before you would know that 'panigiria' is the event of the summer! The traditional feasts with food and dance will actually happen this summer as well, starting from the 1st of June. It is, of course, recommended to maintain the indicated rules for personal hygiene and use protection measures as much as possible.  

Useful numbers for your holidays this summer

All tourist accommodation and tourist services on Greek holiday destinations are required to have an updated operating protocol for this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. For more information, during your stay, we suggest contacting the municipal authority or the tourist services of the island. Here are some numbers that might be useful during your stay - although we hope that everything goes smoothly and you won't need them-:

  • 24-hour line for Covid-19 (EODY): 1135
  • EODY call center: +302105212000
  • European Emergency Number: 112
  • Emergency Medical Service (GR): 166
  • Greek Ministry of Tourism Call Center: +302103736001
  • Greek Police: 100

Sunset, Eresos, Lesvos, Mytilene, colous, sea, rocks, tree

Beautiful sunset colors in Skala Eresos, Lesvos island.

The much-desired and awaited holidays in your favorite Greek islands are now a few clicks away from you! If you have any questions about your ferry trip this summer, don't hesitate to contact the Ferryhopper customer support team