As the highly anticipated 2022 European summer season approaches, several countries in the continent have been rushing to relax their strict travel rules that have been known to keep a large number of Americans out throughout the pandemic. One of the leading destinations in the Mediterranean, Greece, is the latest to indicate entry will be made easier for vaccinated Americans.
While this is far from being a full traditional reopening in the Danish or Latvian style, those who are fully immunized and are planning a visit to the Hellenic Republic soon will benefit from a much less bureaucratic border regime, especially when it comes to the validity of Covid passes.
Here is a summary of all that is changing within Greece ahead of summer:
Two-Dose Certificates Are Now Valid For A Longer Period
Finally bringing Greece in line with the general EU recommendation following months of delay, the country’s Health Minister Thanos Plevris confirmed on April 1 that two-dose or one-dose vaccine passes and recovery certificates will now be valid for a longer period of time.
For those holding a two-dose or one-dose certificate, they may expect to retain their social freedoms for a full 9 months instead of only 7. As for travelers using recovery certificates for smoother travel within Greece, they may still benefit from their recovery status for 6 months as opposed to simply 3.
The new guidelines, which were expected to come into effect months ago, are part of a standardized EU approach to pandemic management. Earlier this year, the European Union set a binding 9-month validity period for vaccine passes being used within the Union, including Greece.
Even though it was a binding decision, Greece had chosen to apply an even shorter validity to two-dose and one-dose passes. When speaking to Skai TV, the Health Minister stated the issue had been ‘brought to the attention’ of the Covid committee advising the Government, and acknowledged the recommendation of the European Commission.
Within the next few days, travelers can expect their two-dose/one-dose/recovery Covid passes to be extended for longer, depending on their nature.
Who Is Considered Fully Vaccinated By Greece?
Greece considers Americans to be fully vaccinated when at least 14 days have passed since the completion of an initial two-dose or one-dose vaccination scheme, and up to 9 months after that. As for American travelers who are in possession of a booster certificate, unlike what many believe, their Covid documentation has no expiration date for the boosted shot.
This means that, if you are entering Greece from the United States being fully immunized, and on top of that having had a booster, you will not have to worry about the pass validity or be subject to further screenings, including:
- No pre-departure testing
- No mandatory Passenger Locator Forms
- No on-arrival testing
- No post-arrival testing
- No quarantine
Whether it’s strolling the sprawling streets of Athens, visiting ancient Greek landmarks and museums, or island-hopping across the Aegean Sea, you will be free to explore this beautiful Mediterranean country immediately after landing, and with zero restrictions, provided you are in possession of a valid vaccine certificate or a booster, which extends it indefinitely.
If you were fully vaccinated more than 9 months ago and have not had a booster dose yet, we strongly recommend you update your vaccination card in order to enjoy smooth travel to and within Greece. When not in possession of valid Covid documents, Americans heading to Greece may be denied boarding or refused entry when arriving in the country.
What About The Unvaccinated?
Americans traveling from the United States who do not hold a valid Covid certificate (either vaccination proof or recovery letter) or indefinite proof of entry (booster doses) can still enter Greece by undergoing PCR testing within 72 hours of arriving.
This means up to 72 hours prior to landing in Greece, not boarding. Alternatively, they can present a negative Rapid Antigen test result issued up to 24 hours in advance.
It is worth noting, however, vaccine or recovery certificates are mandatory for Americans wishing to access a number of venues within Greece, including museums, enclosed eating areas, and entertainment facilities. They may also be required for intercity trips.
In other words, those who are unvaccinated will not be able to visit the Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Meteora Monasteries, or any other cultural landmark in Greece, at least for now.
Face coverings are also mandatory in closed spaces, although they are no longer a requirement outdoors, including beaches and outdoor eating venues.
Greece Slowly Moving Away From Its Conservative Approach
Unlike its European partners, which have been warned against full reopenings by the World Health Organization, Greece still seems reluctant in lifting all its remaining Covid curbs, opting instead for a more conservative path in the months before summer.
There may still be a silver lining for the unvaccinated, with the Health Minister noting that these restrictive measures could be rolled back during the summer months, as Greece moves closer to ‘normalcy’.
So far, we do not know what this ‘normalcy’ will entail, though the Minister suggested that, as soon as May, the mandatory presentation of vaccination passes for entry into cultural venues ‘will be lifted‘.
On the other hand, indoor mask usage ‘is not something that is being considered at present’, highlighting Greece’s more cautious approach to Covid management.
Due to Greece’s strict Covid rules and vaccination mandates, which are still valid at the time this article was written, we advise our readers planning to visit the Hellenic Republic to get vaccinated in order to have the best possible experience when exploring the country this summer.
Despite not being an official requirement, we also strongly recommend you to purchase travel insurance covering Covid treatment costs and other eventualities prior to flying.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com