Greece has been in the news in recent weeks with rising covid-19 cases, triggering warnings the country may find itself on travel advisory lists for a variety of countries. Even with weeks of rising cases, the country has remained under 20 cases per 100,000 people, as of the time of writing.
After a few days here, I want to share my experience on the ground, with the health protocols in place, and whether they’re actually being followed through. Spoiler alert: they mostly are, it’s mostly visitors that are the problem.
Arrival In Greece
Flying into Greece now requires passengers to fill out a PLF form, and to have a QR code ready for inspection before arriving at the airport. You can read up on those details here. Once at the airport, crowd management is well thought out.
Signs are in place to keep distancing, and random covid-19 testing is indeed being done at the airport. All staff are wearing face coverings, and all travellers are instructed to leave theirs on while in the airport. Authorities ask all arrivals to isolate for 1 day, while results from any random tests on each flight are delivered.
Do You Need To Wear Masks In Greece?
Yes, and no. When riding in taxis, or entering stores, masks are the norm. In restaurants, obviously guests aren’t expected to wear them, though in many places you’ll find staff are. I tend to prefer places where that’s protocol for staff, at least for now, and outdoor seating is even better.
Fortunately, it’s Greece were talking about, and outdoor seating in perfect weather is all but guaranteed.
Ballpark guessing it, I’d say 2/10 people are wearing masks while walking in outdoor public spaces, though that number may go up now that Greek authorities are passing out free masks to ferry arrivals.
Hotel Protocols In Greece
All visitors must fill out contact forms, with reachable phone and email, as well as a few other details. Even taxi’s now ask for visitor information, such as an ID or passport, in an effort to provide easier contact tracing.
Hotels are taking strong measures to combat covid-19 for locals and guests alike. Air conditioning is turned off when cleaners enter, with the aim of not spreading any virus in the air. All cleaners and hotel staff I’ve witnessed across a variety of properties are wearing face coverings.
When room cleaning is finished, house keeping puts the air conditioning back on, or to whatever levels the guest had left. In my experience, you’re never in the same room, and great efforts are made to make sure guests are out while rooms are cleaned.
It’s All About The Visitors
At least in Santorini, there’s one clear problem, and it’s one that’s very difficult to enforce, or police. Visitors have things they want to see, and at golden hour, they flock to places like Oia, creating large crowds in relatively small spaces.
Virtually every picture being snapped is outdoors, with an ocean breeze, which makes it far safer than any indoor space, but it’s these situations which somewhat impact an otherwise very safe and sound experience.
I descended into Oia for obligatory photos of Santorini in the morning when it was quiet, and it felt safer than the streets back home on a crowded day. If you’re sensible, or find quiet times, this is arguably the greatest and most unique time in European travel since the Second World War, with fewer visitors than ever in places once rife with over tourism.
Villas, or small hotels, which Greece tends to excel in, also take away many of the worries around things like elevators, and large buffet lines. I’m now back in a villa with my family, simply enjoying the views.
Greece was never going to be about finding a big party, or fighting the masses for a golden hour photo. If you’re on the same page, I’d recommend it highly. Locals are already lamenting a quiet September, and with perfect weather, sensational views and of course, always mouth watering greek food, there’s plenty of reason to turn that outlook around.