Greece travel rules: What on earth is going on?

The country has left holidaymakers flummoxed, first saying it would drop entry rules, then U-turning, then relaxing them - all within the same week

Lucy Thackray
Friday 29 April 2022 15:25 BST
<p>Chania’s Old Town, Crete</p>

Chania’s Old Town, Crete

Going on holiday to Greece this spring or summer? You may still be wondering if you need your proof of vaccination or a PCR test to get in.

The Greek government and tourism authorities have not been especially clear on the subject - appearing to announce in early April that all entry restrictions would be scrapped from 1 May until at least 1 September, before making a U-turn earlier this week and saying that the relaxation of Covid measures would not apply to border rules.

Now the government has made a new announcement regarding the rules for spring and summer.

Here’s everything we know so far.

Why did we think travel rules might be eased?

The Greek health minister, Thanos Plevris, appeared on Skai TV on 12 April, saying that Covid cases had declined enough in the country to “proceed with the suspension of the protection measures put in place, from 1 May.”

Local and international press alike took this to mean all remaining Covid measures - including the domestic use of vaccine certificates to access venues, indoor mask-wearing, and the requirement to show either a vaccine certificate or PCR test result to enter Greece - would be lifted.

Mr Plevris emphasised that the move would be a suspension rather than a firm end to restrictions, saying, “The measures will be reviewed again in September.”

However, six days ahead of the proposed rule change, a tourism source told The Independent that no official statement had been made regarding restrictions for entering the country.

Two separate tourism officials told our travel desk that there had been no announcement regarding travel rules for holidaymakers, and suggested that entry requirements would remain the same from 1 May.

What’s the latest?

Now the government has confirmed that entry rules will be relaxed for all visitors to Greece from 1 May.

The country’s Committee of Health Experts had a session on Thursday, and suggested lifting entry restrictions to the country.

A government statement issued last night says: “At today’s meeting, the Committee of Experts of the Ministry of Health unanimously recommended:

Suspension of Covid pass from May 1 and return of capacity to 100%.

Suspension of EUDCC certificate at the country entry gates.

The proposal of the Commission is accepted by the government and the details that will be clarified on the new Joint Ministirial Decision to [be] issued.”

As such, visitors from 1 May no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result in order to enter the country, regardless of vaccination status. Britons must still abide by the current passport rules for all EU countries, which changed post-Brexit.

Mask-wearing indoors - in public spaces including hotel lobbies, museums and on public transport - will remain for now.

While reports say this measure will end on 1 June, Mr Plevris has stated that the measure may remain for longer, saying on Thursday: “We do not know [when the mask will not be mandatory]. It is possible that the measure of wearing masks indoors might not be lifted, because the mask is a mild measure.

“What we suggest is that masks indoors will continue in May and then, based on the epidemiological picture in the country, decisions will be taken for June.”

What are the rules until 1 May?

If you’re lucky enough to be going to Greece today or tomorrow, you’ll still have to download your Covid Pass ready to show at the border.

If you aren’t fully vaccinated, you’ll have to show a negative PCR result from a test taken within the 72 hours before your arrival (or you can show valid proof of recovery within the past 180 days).

If you’re using a vaccine certificate for entry, make sure your second booster is “in date” - in line with much of the EU, Greeece considers second jabs expired after nine months, by which point you’ll have to have had a booster jab to be recognised as “fully vaccinated”.

There is no expiry date for boosters at present, and the country got rid of its passenger locator form on 15 March.

Is that the end of Covid rules for Greece?

It could be, but the health minister touched on the possibility of going back to stricter border rules in his 12 April announcement.

The relaxed rules, both domestic and border, were heralded as a “suspension” of the current Covid rules rather than a firm end point.

Mr Plevris has said that the rules will be reviewed on 1 September, after the summer season - but new variants or a worrying rise in cases could also result in measures being reintroduced at any point before then.

As such, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Foreign Office guidelines for Greece if you’re planning on visiting.

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