[Information has been updated on August 28, 2020]
Flying to Greece from the United States in the Summer of 2020 during the Covid-19 era may sound like a frightening and unsettling Odyssey, much like the original trip undertaken in ancient Greece, but the breathtaking beauty of the final destination will be more than enough compensation.
Still, as Greek Reporter’s Anastasios Papapostolou discovered while flying in early June from Newark’s Liberty International Airport to Athens via Switzerland, the overall traveling experience might be more tiresome or difficult than before, but if you are not in a high-risk group and you hold a Greek passport it may be worth it.
American citizens cannot yet travel to Greece.
A mother of two from New York said her family is relocating to Greece for the near future. “Given that the situation in New York is bad and because we think it will not change much in the near future, we decided to make the move,” she tells Greek Reporter.
Another passenger, a mother of a Greek teacher in New York City who went to visit her daughter in March, and was stranded there because of travel cancellations, said “I hope to reach Greece by tomorrow, as my previous two flights were canceled.”
Most shops were shuttered at the Newark airport. “All restaurants, coffee shops and duty-free outlets are closed,” another Greek passenger, a resident of NYC, complained.
All passengers were making liberal use of hand sanitizer and were wearing masks and there was minimal contact with airport staff at the departing gate.
During the overnight flight, before they landed at Zurich International Airport, passengers were handed out a form to fill in where they were asked questions regarding their health history and whether or not they had been infected by Covid-19.
After changing aircraft, they then began their flight to their final destination of Athens — and new forms were handed out to passengers to be filled in before they landed in the Greek capital.
Upon landing and entering the main terminal building, passengers underwent Covid-19 testing. The testing process, which takes less than twenty minutes, requires a saliva sample taken from the traveler.
The next day, when everyone hopefully receives their negative results, they are free to enjoy Greece.
The following is the most recently released list of rules for air passengers, as determined by Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Passenger Locator Form
The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) is a key element in the planning. All travelers must complete their PLF until the day before entering the country, providing detailed information on their point of departure, the duration of previous stays in other countries, and the address of their stay while in Greece. In case of multiple stays, they are required to provide the address for the first 24 hours at least. One PLF should be submitted per family.
- Travelers will receive a confirmation email upon submission of the PLF.
- Travelers will receive the PLF with their unique Quick Response (QR) code on the day of their scheduled arrival in Greece (at midnight) and will be notified via email (the QR code will be provided in a link in the confirmation email).
- Travelers boarding or embarking on the previous day of the arrival will be allowed to do so upon showing the confirmation email, since they will receive their QR code during their flight or voyage.
The PLF can also be found on the Visit Greece app and at travel.gov.gr. It is strongly recommended that all visitors download the Visit Greece app (GDPR compliant) for free, prior their arrival in Greece.
Protocol for air arrivals
Passengers of flights from Bulgaria, Romania, U.A.E. and Malta (as of August 11, 2020 until 31 August 2020) and passengers of flights from Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia (as of August 17, 2020 until 31 August 2020) to Greece will be required to have a negative molecular test result (PCR) for COVID-19, performed up to 72 hours before their entry to Greece.
This does also apply to Greek citizens, permanent residents of Greece and travelers for essential professional reasons. Travelers should be laboratory tested with RT-PCR of oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal swab.
Only travelers who carry a certificate of a negative RT-PCR test result will be allowed by the border authorities to enter the country. The certificates should be written in English and bear the name and passport/national ID number of the traveler.
The Laboratories that perform the RT-PCR testing should be:
- National Reference laboratories
- National Public Health Laboratories or
- Private laboratories which are accredited from the respective national accreditation authorities (not necessarily specifically for COVID-19).
Certificates that do not fulfill the above criteria will not be accepted. Children under 10 years old are not subject to the obligation to a PCR test.
Travelers will still have to complete and submit their PLF form and may be subject to random testing upon arrival to the Greek border.
Arriving at a Greek airport
Arrival at the entry gate.
Transfer to the area where the screening personnel are located. Travelers are requested to show their QR code either on their mobile phone screen or in print. If travel departure begins prior to the day of arrival, travelers are allowed to board after showing the confirmation email (and not necessarily the QR code which is scheduled to arrive during their trip.)
Depending on their QR code/confirmation, travelers are directed either to the screening area where they will be tested for the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by a trained health team or to the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).
Upon completion of the test, travelers are directed towards the exit (to baggage claim area or passport control).
The test results are expected to become available within 24 hours. During that time, passengers who are tested are advised to practise social distancing according to local guidelines and self monitoring for symptoms that could indicate COVID-19.
In case of such symptoms, medical advice and/or contact with the National Public Health Organization (EODY) Operations Centre should be immediately sought. Only in case they test positive, the authorities will contact them and proceed with the health protocol in place. Otherwise, they may continue with their holidays, adhering to the general public health safety guidelines.
If travelers plan to have multiple stop-overs in Greece, they must declare this and report their initial destination and their travel itinerary for the next 7 days.
All travelers must comply with all of the necessary preventive hygiene measures (use of masks and physical distancing) according to local guidance.