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Greek Ferries to Start Season Using Vaccine Certificates, Rapid Tests

Greek ferries
Greek Shipping and Islands Police Minister Plakiotakis stated that Green vaccine certificates and self-tests will enable ferries to resume their operation. Credit: Patricia Claus/Greek Reporter

Greek Shipping and Islands Police Minister Giannis Plakiotakis stated to the press on Tuesday that Greek ferries will be using vaccination certificates, self-tests and rapid tests to enable the tourist season to begin this year.

“Τhe green digital vaccination certificate, rapid tests and self tests will be used for voyages with ferries,” the Shipping Minister said earlier today.

Plakiotakis further stated that ferries with cabins will start out at a 55% occupancy rate and those without cabs will be allowed to have only a 50% occupancy rate.

All the appropriate health protocols will be reviewed and updated according to the course of the epidemiological data received as time goes on, he added.

Uncertainty over exactly when ferries will start running again

The Minister made his remarks after his meeting with the regional governor of Central Macedonia, Apostolos Tzitzikostas.

“In close cooperation with the Health Ministry’s agencies, of the National Public Health Organisation and the epidemiologists, we will maket targeted interventions in the reviewing of the health protocols,” Plakiotakis said.

“We hope that through the reform of the health protocol and the progress of the vaccinations, to have a wall of immunity in the Summer in order to be able to experience some normalcy,” the Minister added.

However, Plakiotakis did not reveal precisely when ferry and ship travel for non-essential reasons will resume again or how the vaccination passport, self-tests and the rapid-test system will work.

Regarding Thessaloniki’s ferry link with the northern and southern Aegean, he stated that the Ministry is promoting long-term contracts in order for these ferry routes to be made permanent and stable.

Greece’s pilot lifting of its quarantine requirement began on Monday as the country reopened for American, British, EU, UAE, Serbian and Israeli travelers who either are vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 or can show a negative PCR test upon arrival.

This soft opening of the tourism sector is expected to help authorities in identifying policy gaps and omissions ahead of the official launch of the 2021 tourism season on May 14, when the travel ban is scheduled to be lifted for visitors and residents alike.

For the time being, however, travelers to Greece will need to follow the same restrictions that apply to residents, such as the nightly curfew and the limited travel between regions.

Greece reopens for US travelers for the first time in a year

Under current rules, all foreigners arriving in Greece must test negative and quarantine for seven days.

These first few travelers who will be exempt from the quarantine rules, as part of the kickoff of Greece’s “Green Initiative”, must arrive either through the airports of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu, or through two distinct border crossings.

This is the first time in more than a year that the travel ban will be lifted for US travelers, who have been banned from entering Greece since March of 2020.

The quarantine rules had already been lifted for Israeli tourists last week as Greek authorities decided to accept 10,000 vaccinated Israeli tourists per week.

The official opening of the tourist season on May 14 has been much anticipated by the pandemic-hit tourism and hospitality sector, which remains a key growth driver for the country’s economy.

Passenger Locator Form (PLF) document required

Under the “Green Initiative” scheme for international arrivals, all travelers must complete their PLF document, downloadable from the Visit Greece app and at travel.gov.gr, until the day before entering Greece and leaving their country of origination.

The form will provide detailed information on their point of departure, the duration of previous stays in other countries, and the address of their stay in Greece. In case of multiple stays, travelers are required to provide their address for at least the first 24 hours of their stay. Only one PLF is to be submitted per family.

Upon submission of their PLF, travelers will receive a confirmation email.

The submitted document and their unique Quick Response (QR) code are to be received on the day of their scheduled arrival in Greece, again via email.

Travelers boarding or embarking on the day prior to arrival will be allowed to do so upon showing just the confirmation email, since they will only receive their QR code during their flight or voyage.

It is strongly recommended that all visitors download the Visit Greece app (which is GDPR compliant) for free, prior to their arrival in Greece.

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