We may not be able to enjoy a Greek summer holiday just yet, but over 12 million people have been vaccinated in the UK and the Prime Minister is optimistic that Brits will be able to travel this summer. But what’s happening on the Greek side?
Health and infection rates
Compared to a lot of other European countries, Greece’s Coronavirus cases are currently quite low at 66 per 100,000 as of 9 February 2021. However, cases are starting to creep up and the government has tightened restrictions once more.
The worst affected area seems to be Attica, with the majority of the country’s cases being reported there in recent days. The islands have seen far fewer cases.
What progress has Greece made with vaccinations?
Around 410,000 Greeks have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine – nearly 4% of the population.
The Greek islands have also started to receive vaccines, with residents of all ages being offered jabs. Smaller islands have already vaccinated a large percentage of their population. For example, the tiny island of Kastellorizo has vaccinated around 80% of residents so far.
The vaccines have been distributed fairly evenly across the country, despite lower infection rates on the islands. This is in anticipation of a busy tourist season and to protect islands with limited health services.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that Greece aims to vaccinate two million people by March.
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The Greek government has expressed its support for a so-called ‘vaccine passport’ which would allow travellers to enter the country if they could prove they had been vaccinated against coronavirus. Greece hopes to welcome visitors as early as spring.
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has dismissed issuing vaccine passports in the UK, but this is not to say that British travellers will lose out on summer holidays. If countries start to require proof of vaccination for travel, it will be possible to obtain written evidence of vaccination from your GP.
Current travel bans
Travel to Greece is still possible for residents of the UK, Greece, other EU/EFA states and a selection of other low-risk non-EU countries. However, the UK government has issued a stay at home order meaning it is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays or leisure reasons.
All arrivals in Greece must:
- Have completed a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours prior to travel
- Have proof of a negative coronavirus PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel
- Take a rapid coronavirus test on arrival
- Complete a mandatory seven-day quarantine if your rapid test is negative, or 14 days if your test is positive
- UK arrivals will need to take a further PCR test on quarantine day seven.
These measures are to be in place until 22 February and will then be reviewed.
Be aware that travel within Greece is also restricted, with non-essential domestic flights banned until at least 15 February.
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What are the current restrictions in Greece?
Greece has implemented regional restrictions based on the infection rate. However, there is a national curfew lasting from 9pm-5am, Monday-Sunday. A stricter weekend curfew lasting from 6pm-5am has been introduced in ‘red areas’ where infection levels are highest. At present, this includes Athens and Thessaloniki. During the curfew, people can only leave their houses for emergencies, to walk pets, or for work.
In these ‘red areas’, non-essential businesses must remain closed on Saturdays, with essential businesses only being allowed to trade 7am-5pm.
These new restrictions are set to last until 15 February.
Potential gradual end to lockdown
Your trip to Greece may happen sooner than you think as the Greek government hopes to welcome tourists as early as 1 April, depending on the country’s infection rates. Greece is looking to Israel – who is acting as the pilot for the vaccination programme – to see how vaccines affect their infection rate.
If the results in Israel look promising, and Greece’s own infections remain low, travellers will likely be welcomed into Greece with open arms to help boost the tourist sector.
The Greek Prime Minister has also shown interest in a new Israeli ‘miracle drug’ which Israel claims has “spectacular results” against severe coronavirus symptoms. Of course, the rollout of this depends on the results of clinical trials and safety regulations.
Can I still purchase property in Greece?
It is still very much possible to buy property in Greece. Although you cannot physically view properties at the moment, you can still watch virtual viewings. You can even make an offer subject to being able to view the property.