As tentative signs start to emerge of a revival for the travel industry, our minds are turning to potential holiday destinations for this summer.
With sun, sea and dolmades, Greece has long been a popular travel destination for Britons in need of some vitamin D.
But can British holidaymakers get there? And will we even be welcome?
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Here’s everything you need to know.
Am I allowed to travel to Greece from the UK?
At the moment, the Foreign Office is advising against all non-essential international travel – including to Greece.
The ban was initially put in place to avoid Britons getting stuck abroad as flight routes shut down; now that airlines are looking to restart summer flying programmes, this could change.
The FCO says its advice is under “constant review”.
The advice doesn’t make travel abroad “illegal” as such – but it does invalidate your travel insurance and means you may find it tricky to get help from the embassy or consulate if things go wrong.
How could I get there?
At the moment, you couldn’t. Air links with the UK have been suspended since March, but are expected to be reinstated from 1 July onwards.
Ryanair is currently resuming flights between London Southend and Corfu from 5 July, with bargain ticket prices of just over £63 return.
You’ll have to wait till 25 July to fly to Mykonos with easyJet, though fares there are pretty reasonable too – just under £100 at the time of writing.
Or you could fly out on British Airways’ first Heathrow to Athens service on 1 July – if you’ve got a spare £724 (one-way).
However, in all cases there’s no guarantee the flight won’t be cancelled if not enough people book seats – a strong possibility considering the FCO travel advisory is still in place – or Greece decides not to lift air travel restrictions at the start of July. And, while you’d be owed a refund, you’d likely find it impossible to retrieve any costs paid out in advance for accommodation in Greece.
International arrivals by sea are currently prohibited but will be allowed from 1 July.
Will they let me in when I arrive?
Not yet. From 15 June, Greece opened its border to visitors from Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, Malta, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Australia, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Hungary, South Korea, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Finland.
The UK, with the third highest death toll in the world, didn’t make the cut.
Athens announced on Friday 12 June that air links with the UK would continue to be suspended until 30 June.
“The ban [on passenger flights from] Great Britain remains in place for the next two weeks,” said tourism minister, Harry Theoharis, reports The Guardian.
The UK is an important market for the Greek tourism industry. British visitors are the second largest market after Germany, and spend more than any other nationality.
Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?
It’s moot before Greece lifts its ban on British tourists. However, when it does, the answer is “maybe”.
According to Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority, travellers from high-risk countries are required to take a mandatory Covid-19 test – if it’s positive, they’ll be quarantined “under supervision” for 14 days.
Those from low-risk countries are only subject to random testing.
However, rules may be loosened from 1 July.
Even if other nationalities are exempt, it may be that a two-week quarantine is imposed for travellers from the UK, in response to the UK’s own blanket 14-day isolation period for all arrivals – unless, of course, a reciprocal “air bridge” or “travel corridor” agreement is struck, enabling residents of both countries to move between the two without restriction.
Can I travel within Greece including between Greek islands?
Until 30 June, international passenger planes can only fly into Athens and Thessaloniki. However, 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 FCO. “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.
From 15 June, museums, historic buildings and areas, theme parks, gyms, saunas, spas and thermal springs are also able to open to visitors, albeit with new rules in place, such as limiting the number of customers per square metre.
Archaeological sites are now operating on extended summer hours (8am-8pm) and visitor numbers per hour are capped to avoid overcrowding.
What rules are in place?
It’s mandatory to wear face masks on public transport (including ferries), in taxis, in all medical facilities and in lifts. The use of face masks is strongly recommended in other enclosed spaces too.
Will I have to quarantine when I come home?
Yes. When you arrive back on UK soil, you’ll currently have two weeks of mandatory quarantine to look forward to.
The policy was implemented on 8 June and is in place indefinitely, but subject to regular review.
The UK quarantine is “compulsory”, which means you could be contacted at random to ensure you understand the requirements and are self-isolating.
Officials can telephone or call at the nominated address at any time during the 14 days and fine you £1,000 (in England and Wales) if you’re out without a valid excuse.
Quarantinees cannot go to work, school or to any public areas, or use public transport or taxis. They can’t have visitors, should not go out to buy food or other essentials “where you can rely on others,” and should also avoid contact with the people they’re staying with.
It’s a high price to pay for a Greek getaway.
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