Greece backtracks, says British tourists will be allowed to enter this summer

Jun 1, 2020

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Update 1 June 1 p.m.: Greece’s tourism minister has backtracked on comments made last week, clarifying that U.K. travellers will be allowed to enter the popular holiday destination this summer.

As of 15 June, Brits will be allowed to enter Greece. However, the Greek Tourism Ministry said that Brits may be subject to stricter entry requirements than other nations, according to The Telegraph.

On Friday, Greece laid out plans for its reopening to tourists, which said that only visitors from 29 countries would be allowed to visit as of 15 June — and the U.K. was not included. As of Monday, the country has altered that policy, saying that arrivals from airports deemed high-risk by the European Union Safety Agency (EASA), which includes many U.K. airports, will be allowed in subject to testing and potential quarantine upon arrival.

“Tourists originating from airports listed on EASA are obliged to be tested once they land in Greece and remain at a designated hotel for one day”, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis told ANA-MPA. “If the test turns out negative, these visitors will then be obliged to observe a seven-day quarantine. If their sample is positive, they will remain in a 14-day quarantine and their health will be monitored”.

Of the U.K.’s airports, 13 are categorised as high-risk by EASA, including London Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow and Stansted. However, Edinburgh is not deemed high-risk by EASA.

In theory, the restrictions mean that originating your holiday in Edinburgh means that you won’t be subject to the enhanced requirements, whereas if you were to originate in Glasgow, you would.

“If your travel originated from an airport not in the EASA affected area list… then you are only subject to random tests upon arrival”, the ministry said.

Original story, published 29 May 2020:

If you’ve seen the news that Greece is planning to open to tourists on 15 June and gotten excited about a possible holiday, you’ll need to rethink those plans in the near term. On Friday, Greece announced that travellers coming from the U.K. will not be allowed to enter the country.

When Greece reopens its borders, it will allow those coming from a total of 29 countries in. However, the U.K. isn’t one of those.

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According to ITV, the 29 countries from which tourists will be allowed to visit Greece as of 15 June include Albania, Australia, Austria, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, New Zealand, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Finland.

The government said that tourists from the countries that are allowed in will be randomly tested at airports.

As of 1 July, the Greek tourism minister said that it will evaluate and potentially add additional countries to that list. However, it’s not yet clear if the U.K. is being considered at this time.

It’s worth noting that the FCO still advises against all non-essential international travel at this time, and there’s no indication as to when the guidance will be lifted.

On 8 June, the U.K. will begin implementing its mandatory 14-day self-isolation requirement for all arriving international travellers. At this time, the only exceptions for those restrictions are those coming from the Common Travel Area, as well as those who are conducting some forms of business.

Related: Mandatory 14-day isolation for UK arrivals takes effect 8 June

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the government will review these restrictions every three weeks. It’s possible that in future iterations of this policy, the UK could rule travellers coming from some low-risk countries exempt from the self-isolation restriction.

If things change and you do decide to book a trip to Greece this summer, be mindful of both hotel and airline cancellation and rebooking policies. Many airlines have shifted to temporarily allow travellers to book new flights now and cancel for a refund or travel credit later, often with the ability to make changes within the next year and even into 2021. You should also definitely consider protecting your trip with a travel insurance policy that allows you to cancel for any reason.

Featured photo by George Papapostolou / Getty Images.

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