Christmas and New Year visitors to Greece face quarantine

Travellers to Greece for Christmas and New Year face 10 days in self-isolation when they arrive – in addition to coronavirus tests before departure and after arrival.

The country has kept infection rates relatively low. The latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show that Greece had 222 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, compared with 317 for the UK.

But the country saw rates double during November. The government in Athens is concerned about the pressure on the nation’s health service, and fears that arrivals from abroad for the festive season could increase infections.

The prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, tweeted: “The optimism from the arrival of the vaccine should not lead us to complacency. This euphoria worries us, because it can lead to a possible third wave and winter is still ahead of us. We must continue to respect individual protection measures.”

Greece already has strict rules in place for inbound travellers. They must take a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival and complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours ahead of reaching Greece.

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They must also take a rapid Covid-19 test on arrival. At present, if it is negative they are free to enter Greece – but are subject to the current lockdown measures.

These include seeking permission to leave a dwelling and a night curfew from 9pm to 5am.

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Greece is one of the few European countries with a degree of UK quarantine exemption: people arriving from the islands of Corfu, Crete, Kos, Rhodes and Zante need not self-isolate.

But during the winter there are no direct flights from any of those locations. All the available options involve passing through a “high-risk” airport, thus triggering quarantine.

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