Know the Rules: The A-Z for Tourism in Greece in the Covid-19 Era

An A-Z guide of all the new Covid-19 measures in place at Greek airports, hotels, restaurants, shops, beaches, cinemas and more.


The Greek government has released an interactive color-coded map of Greece at covid19.gov.gr containing information regarding Covid-19 and the different measures put in place in order to limit the spread of the virus.

As of writing, the same set of measures and safety restrictions apply throughout the country.

All regional units have been set at Level C: The country is currently under lockdown, which means people who leave their homes must carry their ID or passport with them as well as a form (available via SMS) indicating the reason for their outing.

In addition, a nightly curfew is now in operation from 21.00 to 05.00 during which movements outside of the home are only permitted for valid work-related reasons, emergencies and to take pets for short walks. 

The lockdown will apply until at least November 30, 2020.

We will keep updating this article with any new developments.

Last updated: November 13

AEGEAN AIRLINES

Greece’s leading air carrier has implemented a raft of changes as it prepares to fly the first tourists to Greece from abroad this summer. These include new health protocols at gates (eg contactless passport checks) and on board planes (eg. crews are regularly tested for Covid-19 and have undergone special training; snacks are prepacked and come with antiseptic wipes). Watch the video above to get a better idea of the new changes.

Additionally, Aegean is offering a “Hold my Booking” feature designed to offer greater flexibility to prospective travelers as they finalize their plans. With the new service you can keep a selected flight on hold at the same price for several days before you complete your booking. For domestic flights the service costs 3 euros and you can hold a booking for up to 4 days (service available up to 7 days before departure). For international flights the service costs 6 euros and you can hold a booking for up to 6 days (available up 10 days before departure).

As Greece opened up to tourism again, in addition to its Athens flights, Aegean Airlines relaunched international flights to and from Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia” starting June 15.

The next stage for the resumption of international flights includes the connection of destinations abroad with regional airports, which will be permitted from July 1. Aegean is expected in the coming days to draw up the flight schedule out of its hubs in Irakleio and Hania in Crete and Rhodes, among others. By July 15 it is expected to serve 42 destinations abroad out of Athens and at least seven foreign destinations out of Thessaloniki.

The overall flying schedule when it fully matures is expected to represent 50% of that anticipated before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Direct flights between Thessaloniki and Tel-Aviv are expected to resume once the restrictions on travel between Greece and Israel are lifted – this is expected from August 1 according to recent comments by the Israeli prime minister.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

Archaeological sites now operate on extended summer hours (08:00-20:00) to avoid large crowds from forming. In order to maintain the minimum 1.5m safety distance between people, the number of visitors allowed in at every archaeological site is limited, as is the number of visitors allowed to enter every hour.

Specific routes have been demarcated, the entrance and exit separated and plexiglass screens installed wherever needed and possible – for example, at the Propylaea on the Acropolis. The use of protective masks and alcohol-based sanitizers on site is strongly advised.

ARRIVALS

The tourism period in Greece officially began on June 15, with tourists able to fly to Athens and Thessaloniki airports. Direct international flights are now permitted as of July 1 to all other airports around the country, allowing travelers to fly directly to tourist destinations.

International flights are currently allowed from all EU+ countries except Sweden and the UK (flights from the UK will resume on July 15, it remains to be seen if the same will apply to Sweden). Additionally, international flights are open from 14 non EU+ countries. The list of non-EU+ countries from which flights are allowed into Greece is re-examined every two weeks.

As of July 1, the Greek government has implemented a new monitoring system: all travelers arriving to Greece by air, sea, or road are required to fill a Passenger Locator Form at least 48 hours prior to their arrival in the country. Passengers must provide detailed information on their point of departure, the duration of previous stays in other countries, and their address(es) while in Greece.

Some visitors arriving to Greece will be selected for using swab tests (which are mandatory for those selected). However all passenger will be allowed to move immediately on to their destinations (i.e. quarantine upon arrival no longer applies).

For more information see: Can I Travel to Greece Again?

AΤHENS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The use of face masks is mandatory after entering the airport terminal; a mask must be kept on throughout a passenger’s stay in the airport areas, during boarding, and during the flight (domestic or international). Passengers should also be aware that they may be asked to temporarily remove their mask during security processes and identity checks. Hand sanitizer dispensers are available in over 300 spots at the airport, including the bathrooms.

Plexiglass panels have been installed for additional protection in areas where contact with employees is necessary such as ticket desks and information counters. To minimize waiting times, passengers are encouraged to select e-service options (web check-in) prior to their departure for the airport, as well as within the airport areas (self check-in, baggage-tag printing, drop-off baggage, e-parking). Seating in all waiting areas has been re-arranged to allow for safe minimum distances. The current recommendation is that every other seat be left vacant. However, families or couples traveling together do not have to keep this distance.

BEACHES – Organized with Beach Clubs

At organized beach clubs, a maximum of 40 people will be allowed per 1,000m2; an entrance/exit count will be carried out to make sure this measure is respected. A minimum distance of 4 meters must be maintained between individual umbrellas, each of which will provide shade for two sun loungers at most – this does not apply to families with children. Two sunbeds that are under different umbrellas cannot be placed closer to each other than 1.5m.

Placing a towel on top of sun loungers is mandatory and considered the responsibility of the user. The staff at organized beaches and beach clubs are required to disinfect sun loungers/chairs after every use. Additionally, they must regularly disinfect sanitary facilities and post a schedule of that cleaning for official review.

Team sports (such as beach volleyball) involving close contact are forbidden.

Beach bars and food trucks offering food and drink can serve items in a package (and continue to offer take-away services). Spaced out chairs and tables are allowed in café or bar space with customers seated at least 1.5 meters apart. Alcohol can be sold but cannot be consumed at the bar to prevent overcrowding.

The ban on playing music at organized beaches has been lifted. However, it is recommended for owners of bars and cafes operating in beach areas to avoid holding events that would cause overcrowding.

BOATS (Ferries)

Until August 31, boats (ferries) will be allowed to travel at 80% capacity – or 85% for boats with cabins on board. Passengers will be required to answer a series of questions and have their temperatures taken before boarding. Passengers who present symptoms or are deemed at risk of infection (e.g. due to exposure to a Covid-19 patient in the 14 previous days) will be refused permission to board the boat.

Passengers inside the boat will have to remain at a 1.5m distance from each other, and the number of aircraft-type seats will be reduced. Two persons maximum will be allowed in each cabin, except for families of up to 4 people, and people with disabilities traveling with companions.

The use of a mask on board vessels is mandatory, both inside and on the open-air decks. Crews have been trained to respond to potential coronavirus cases, and boats will be disinfected after completing each sea route.

CAMPING

The “golden rule” of maintain a distance of at least 1.5m between people who don’t belong to the same family or friend circle and do not live under the same roof applies here, too.

Tents and camper vans must be at least 5 meters apart on the entrance/exit side, and 3 meters apart on every other side. Upon arrival, customers must agree to and comply with the instructions and safety measures – establishments reserve the right to refuse entrance to anyone refusing to cooperate.

The use of masks is advised in interior covered spaces. Entrance to the site, as well as passage through it and the use of the campground facilities will be restricted to customers only. All common-use areas and facilities, as well as rental equipment, will be thoroughly disinfected on a regular basis.

CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT at HOTELS

Check-in and check-out times have been changed – check-out to 11:00 and check-in to 15:00. The added time between each check-out and check-in is necessary to ensure that each room is thoroughly disinfected between stays, and that the space is adequately ventilated.

You may see a plexiglass screen at the reception desk – their presence is at the discretion of hotel management. Hand sanitizers, on the other hand, are mandatory.

Other measures the hotel must perform include disinfecting all card keys after each stay. Wherever possible, you are encouraged to check in at an outdoor reception station. The use of electronic alternatives to check-in and check-out, such as Mobile Concierge apps, is preferable, as are electronic payments upon check-out. It is likely that any accounts, invoices or receipts will be sent to you via email. Cash will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances.

EAT & DRINK

Food & drink establishments as well as clubs must remain closed from midnight to 7 a.m.

Both indoor and outdoor seating is now permitted at restaurants across the country (although outdoor dining is still recommended where possible). Servers must wear face masks. The minimum distance allowed between tables ranges from 70cm to 170cm. A limit of 6 people per table has been set. 

Information signs will remind people of individual hygiene rules and of safety measures applying to all spaces. Customers will be encouraged to make electronic transactions. Sanitizer gel will be available at cash registers; if the owner deems it necessary, a protective plexiglass screen will be installed, as well as markings on the floor to delimit safe distances for queuing.

At hotel buffets disinfectant will be provided for hands at the dining area’s entrance. Staff must make sure that it is used by customers. All hotels must install sneeze guards (protective food guards that protect buffet line entrées and sides from airborne contaminants). The food at the buffet will be served only by the hotel’s kitchen staff (who will be properly equipped with masks and gloves). The customer should not come in contact with the food or the utensils at the buffet.

It is recommended for food to be placed in individual packets in areas where staff is not serving.

Automatic coffee machines, juicers, etc., should only be used by the staff (who will be properly equipped with masks and gloves).

With regards to hotel bars only packaged individual side dishes are provided with drinks. Room service is encouraged at no extra charge.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

The European Emergency Number is 112. For any Covid-19-related inquiries, dial 1135.

FINES

The fine for not using a mask where required is €150.

FLIGHTS

All of the country’s airports have opened for international flights as of July 1. See here for more information on international flights allowed into Greece.

GATHERINGS/ PUBLIC SPACES

The use of mask is mandatory in all outdoor spaces where the 1.5-meter safety distance cannot be kept – such as bus stops and public squares.

The use of mask is strongly recommended in all other outdoor public spaces.

The limit for both outdoor and indoor gatherings is set at 9 people.

A limit of 20 people has been set for weddings, baptisms, and funerals.

Additionally, people who are aged 65 and above are strongly advised not to leave home unless absolutely necessary, to avoid public transports, and to avoid contact with people outside their close family circle.

HAIRDRESSERS/BEAUTY SALONS

Hair and beauty salons operate by appointment only, with a minimum 2m distance between stations/chairs. The use of masks is mandatory for everyone, and employees a must wear disposable gloves as well. Working hours have been extended from 07.00 to 22.00 on weekdays and 07.00 to 21.00 on Saturdays.

HOTELS

As announced by the Greek government on June 29, all hotels must create designated “quarantine rooms” meant to host visitors displaying COVID-19 symptoms who do not require immediate hospital care. The government specifies that:

  • establishments comprising up to 10 rooms are required to have 1 quarantine room,
  • establishments comprising up to 50 rooms are required to have 2 quarantine rooms
  • establishments comprising over 50 rooms are required to dedicate 3% of their rooms to that purpose.

Upon arrival, you’re advised to ask about the establishment’s policy in case of health incidents and about the medical facilities in the general area, including the public and private hospitals, Covid-19 referral hospitals, and pharmacies. Hotels are advised to provide printed brochures with basic health instructions translated into English, French and German, as no such electronic app currently exists.

HOUSEKEEPING at HOTELS

Housekeeping will be less frequent during stays, and turndown services have been abolished. Towels and sheets will be changed upon customer request only. As you enter your room for the first time, look for the sign that will tell you when and how your room was last cleaned.

Hotel owners have the choice between two cleaning options: they can either clean it in the usual way after a customer leaves and keep it closed for 24 hours until the next one comes, or perform a thorough cleansing and disinfection using a steam cleaner, UV rays or other such equipment on all room and bathroom surfaces.

Hotel owners have been advised to get rid of decorative objects such as throw pillows. Getting rid of reusable items likely to be shared, such as menus and magazines, is recommended as well. Disposable covers will be placed on TV and air conditioner remote controls. Upholstery fabric must be cleaned with a vapor steam cleaner – at temperatures exceeding 70°C.

LIVE PERFORMANCES

All live performances have been suspended for the time being.

The suspension of all live theater performances has been announced starting September 24.  

Additionally, discotheques and clubs with live music will remain closed until the end of the month (30/09.) 

MASKS

The use of disposable or reusable fabric masks is mandatory in all indoor spaces, including places of worship (churches), as well as outdoor spaces where safety distances can not be guaranteed. Passengers on ferries and taxi boats are required to wear a mask at all times, even on the outside decks. 

Exempt from the rule are customers at restaurants and people with respiratory problems. Those found to be in violation of face mask rules face a fine of 150 €.

MOVIE THEATERS

Operation of indoor cinemas is suspended for the time being.

Open-air theaters operate with new safety rules, the most important one being the reduction of the number of seats to 60% of the theater’s capacity with space between every two seats and 1,5 safety distance during the entrance and exit of the audience. The use of masks is mandatory for spectators upon entering and exiting the theater as well as during the projection.

Movie theater snack bars will be open before and during screenings, but there will not be any intermissions (customary in Greek cinemas) to avoid overcrowding.

It is likely that ticket offices will open two hours prior to movies’ start times, and stop ticket sales 15 minutes before so that people have time to properly take their seats while maintaining social distancing.

MUSEUMS

Museums reopened on June 15. Visitors will have to keep a distance of 2 meters between each other and are encouraged to wear protective masks and make their transactions with a credit card. Museums can only use air conditioning where these are open-circuit (i.e. allow fresh air to enter the building). A limited number of people will be allowed entry every hour.

PANIGYRIA (TRADITIONAL FESTIVALS)

The popular local village festivals known as “panigyria” have been officially prohibited in all of Greece until August 31 to avoid the risk of Covid-19 spreading among attendees. 

PRIVATE BEACHES @ HOTELS & RESORTS

Seats of any kind must be placed in such a way that the distance between two people sitting under two different umbrellas is no less than 3 meters in any direction. People will be discouraged from placing their towels or beach mats within the “safe distance areas”. Towels large enough to cover all of a seat’s surfaces will be provided and disinfected after every use.

QUEUES

Greeks have recently shown remarkable discipline in complying with the “queuing regulations” now in place (okay, with a few exceptions). The main rule to observe is to remain at least 1.5 – 2 meters from others in the queue. In many shops and other areas floor markings have been placed to aid with physical distancing. The use of masks is mandatory in queues where the safety distances cannot be kept. 

RENT A CAR

Rental cars will be disinfected between uses by different clients. Additionally, the number of passengers allowed will be restricted: For cars with up to seven seats, only the driver plus three passenger will be allowed in the vehicle. For eight or nine-seat vehicles, the driver will be allowed to carry up to five passengers. These restrictions do not apply for families with children.

SHOPPING/ MARKETS

You may need to wait for a few minutes before entering many shops. Smaller ones up to 20 m2 will be able to host a maximum of 4 people at the same time (including employees). Stores from 20 to 100 m2 can have a maximum of 4 people inside plus one person for every additional 10 m2. Stores 100 m2 and above will be able to welcome a maximum of 12 people, plus one more person for every additional 15 m2. Distances of at least 1.5 meters must be maintained by customers and employees, but as of July 7, the use of masks is no longer mandatory.

Public markets operate at 50%. Masks are mandatory for producers as well as consumers. Stands are placed at a 3-meter distance from each other. Additionally, two markets that are located in one area may now operate during the same week.

SWIMMING POOLS

Sunbeds must be placed so that two people sitting under two different umbrellas, or two people staying in two different rooms maintain a distance of at least 2 meters in every direction. Every time a customer leaves, seats, tables, security boxes, menus and any other item the next customer may use must be disinfected. Pools are advised to provide towels covering beds’ surfaces as well as to clean every sunbed / chair between uses. It is recommended that cushions and fabric coverings be removed from sunbeds.

The use of indoor swimming pools is forbidden until further notice. Opaque dividers are recommended for swimming pool showers, to allow people to thoroughly wash before entering and after exiting the water. Swimming pools are advised to provide all necessary amenities (soap, shower gel, etc.) as well as antiseptic gel by the shower entrance

TOUR BUSES

All tourist buses are allowed to operate at up to 50% capacity. All passengers must wear protective masks on board. All tour buses must provide hand sanitizer by the entrance. Companies are advised to install transparent protective dividers in buses between the driver and the passengers. On special open-air tourist buses, at stops passengers will only be allowed to embark after all those getting off have done so. After each route, the cleaning of surfaces and high contact spots (e.g. handles) is advised.

TRANSFER CARS

Customer transport will be allowed via private transfers only. Vehicles with up to 5 seats can carry no more than one passenger plus the driver. Companions of people with disabilities are exempt from this rule. 6-7 seat cars can carry the driver plus two passengers, while 8-9 seat cars can carry up to 3 passengers. The passenger limit will not apply if the passengers are parents with their children. The driver and passengers must all wear masks.

VISITORS @ HOTEL ROOMS

Rooms in hotels and resorts, as well as tents and campers at campsites, are for customer-use only. No visitors will be permitted.

WATERSPORTS

Anything that comes in contact with customers – every surface, life jacket, wetsuit etc – must be cleaned and disinfected between each use. Only members of the same family, or individuals able to maintain a 2m distance between them, will be allowed on any single piece of equipment (such as a canoe or inflatable ride).

YACHTS

Faraway destinations where medical help is scant are to be avoided. The maximum number of passengers allowed on board will depend on a boat’s size and the number of passengers allowed by its license. On every boat there will be a book with all passenger details and their hours of embarking and disembarking, which must be available in written or electronic form for inspection by port and health authorities. The only people allowed on board will be the people who have boarded from the start of the journey. No other passengers or visitors will be allowed on board at intermediate stops.

Additionally, a log must be kept to monitor everyone’s health on board: all crew and passengers will have their temperatures taken once daily and logged. If somebody starts developing Covid-19 symptoms on board – a cough, fever, shortness of breath – this must be logged in the book and a prearranged plan for dealing with a suspected coronavirus case must be activated. There must be sufficient quantities of antiseptic, disinfectant, cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment for all on board.

ZEUS

The God of philoxenia (hospitality) wishes you a great, safe holiday in Greece!


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