British tourists have been flocking to Greece in droves since the country reopened its borders on 15 July, soaking up its Mediterranean lifestyle and enjoying the beauty of its islands.
But a spike in cases, as well as a number of tourists testing positive for coronavirus on their return, has led the government to kick a handful of Greek islands off the “safe” list.
Fortunately, the Greek mainland has so far managed to stay on the travel corridors list. And last week, some of the no-go islands made a welcome return to the safe list.
So, what does this mean for British travellers keen for a fix of Grecian sun?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Am I allowed to travel to Greece from the UK?
At the moment, mainland Greece and most Greek islands are on the Foreign Office’s (FCDO) safe list – this applies to all nations in the UK.
The only exceptions are the islands of Mykonos and Crete, for which the FCDO advises against all but essential travel. While it’s not illegal to travel there, most travel insurance will be invalidated by the FCDO advice so you may need to arrange additional cover.
The Scottish government currently says “you should think carefully before booking non-essential foreign travel at this time” – but it has also said that any booked holidays can go ahead.
However, there are different rules for the different nations on your return – you may need to quarantine depending on where you live and where you’re planning to travel to (see below).
How could I get there?
Air links with the UK were suspended in March, but got the go-ahead to resume from 15 July.
Ryanair, British Airways, easyJet, Wizz Air and Aegean Airlines are all offering flights to various Greek destinations.
Will they let me in when I arrive?
Yes. British passport holders were allowed back into the country again as of 15 July, although with some stipulations.
Travellers must complete an online Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before their arrival in Greece. The form is online, and in English.
The FCDO has warned that if you don’t fill in the form before you travel, it “may result in your carrier not allowing you to travel, a €500 fine on arrival or the Greek authorities not allowing you to enter the country”.
If you’re travelling as a household, you only need to fill in one form with details of all the adults and children included. Additional family members can be added to the top of the form before you hit submit. Otherwise each adult over 18 will have to fill in their own form, for example if you’re travelling with a group of friends.
Some airlines will ask for separate forms for every adult, and you should check with your carrier before you travel to see if that’s the case.
Once you have completed the form, you will receive an email acknowledgement and, in a separate email, a QR code. This code is likely to be sent up to 24 hours before travel, regardless of how early the form is filled in.
When you receive your code, either print it or ensure you can display it on your mobile phone.
You will need to show your code to Greek authorities on your arrival into the country, and some airlines may also ask to see it before they let you board.
There have been multiple cases of passengers being denied boarding because they did not fill in the PLF or didn’t fill it in “correctly”. A British mother of two was denied boarding by easyJet on a flight to Greece because the airline claimed she had not filled in the forms properly, while travellers were turned away by Wizz Air for failing to fill in their middle names on the form – even though the form said this was “optional”.
When you arrive in Greece, the authorities will scan the QR code and may direct you for health screening (including testing for coronavirus).
If you are travelling by ferry to Greece, the ferry operator will ask you to complete an additional form (‘Pre Boarding Information’), alongside your PLF. This additional form will be provided by the ferry operator, either via their website, or at booking offices: you should contact them directly if you need further information. Temperature checks may also be carried out before boarding.
If you are travelling overland into Greece, you will need to provide a negative Covid test result – obtained up to 72 hours prior – to authorities upon arrival.
Additional rules may apply if you’re not travelling from the UK or if you’re not a British passport holder.
Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?
According to the FCDO, the Greek authorities may require you to undergo testing for coronavirus as part of a health screening when you arrive in Greece. Any passenger may be asked to undergo a test, but you are more likely to be asked if you’ve arrived from a country outside of the EU (including the UK), either directly or via indirect flights.
After testing, you’ll need to self-isolate at the address given on your PLF form until you receive the results, which should be available within 24 hours. You should also self-monitor to check whether you’re showing any symptoms of coronavirus.
If your test is negative, you will no longer need to self-isolate. If your test result is positive, the Greek authorities are likely to ask you to quarantine for 14 days. Depending on the nature of your accommodation, you may be instructed to move to government-provided accommodation, the costs of which will be paid by the Greek authorities.
Be aware that even if you don’t have coronavirus, you may be asked to self-isolate if someone else from your flight tests positive.
Will I have to quarantine when I come home?
It all depends on where you live in the UK and where you want to travel to in Greece as there are different rules for Scotland and Wales due to the devolution of government.
England and Northern Ireland are currently following the UK government’s advice – at the moment, only the islands of Mykonos and Crete are excluded from the travel corridors list, which means you will be subject to a two-week quarantine on your return from there.
Travel to other islands and the Greek mainland is fine and there’s no need to self-isolate when you come back.
For those in Wales, there’s no need to quarantine if you’re travelling to mainland Greece and most Greek islands. However, if you’re coming back from Mykonos, you will have to self-isolate for two weeks.
As for those living in Scotland, travel to any part of Greece, whether it’s the mainland or the islands, will require a 14-day quarantine you return.
Can I travel within Greece including between Greek islands?
Yes. Flights are operating within the country, and travelling throughout Greece, including the islands, has been permitted since 25 May.
If you’re travelling via ferry, you will need to complete a health questionnaire and hand it to the ferry operator before boarding, according to the FCDO. “The necessary forms will be provided by the operator: you should contact them directly if you need further information. Temperature checks may also be carried out before boarding; and it is obligatory to wear masks on all ferries, whose capacity is limited to allow for social distancing.”
Those travelling on internal domestic flights will also be required to wear a mask. Specific measures relating to check-in, baggage allowances and other details are in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Are hotels open?
Yes. Previously only year-round hotels could open but, as of 15 June, seasonal hotels in tourist destinations have also been allowed to admit guests.
Airbnb accommodation also remains available.
Are restaurants, shops and attractions open?
Restaurants, fast-food joints, bars, internet cafes, shops and open-air nightclubs have been open since 6 June.
As of 15 June, museums, historic buildings and areas, theme parks, gyms, saunas, spas and thermal springs have also been able to open to visitors, albeit with new rules in place, such as limiting the number of customers per square metre.
Archaeological sites are open too, with capped visitor numbers, social distancing and masks required.
What rules and restrictions are in place?
You must wear a face mask at all times when on an aeroplane or ferry travelling to or from Greece and while at airports. It’s also mandatory to wear face masks on public transport (including ferries), in public indoor spaces and any enclosed venue that provides a good or service, such as banks or supermarkets.
Travel in a private car or a taxi is limited to a maximum of three adult passengers per vehicle, in addition to the driver. Any children in the vehicle do not count towards this limit.
There is also a nationwide limit of 50 for the number of people that can gather for public and social events, except those to which special rules apply, such as restaurants or cinemas.
There may also be additional local restrictions in place – the FCDO provides a list of these but it may not be exhaustive.
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