After tightening its travel rules in response to the Omicron variant, Greece has now relaxed its entry requirements for vaccinated travellers.
While unvaccinated or partly vaccinated visitors will still need to present a negative Covid test result on arrival, those who have had two doses or more of a vaccine are now exempt.
High cases during a winter spike mean there are still some domestic rules and restrictions for locals and holidaymakers, however.
So how will this affect your holiday or Athens city break?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What are the current entry requirements for Greece?
Since 7 February, anyone who can show proof of two vaccine doses or more (your NHS Covid Pass is accepted) can enter Greece without having to test first.
“The test provider must be certified by the competent national certification authority of the country in which you received the test, and must provide you with a certificate of your test result, in Greek, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish or Russian. The certificate must include the name of the person, as stated on the passport,” read the rules provided by the Greek authorities.
Greece has also implemented a timeframe for vaccine validity, meaning that your Covid pass will need to show that you had your second vaccine jab within the past 270 days. If your second dose was given before that, you’ll need a booster jab for your proof of vaccination to remain valid.
For those who have not been vaccinated, or had only a single dose of a two-dose vaccine, you must still present a negative Covid test result on arrival – this can be a PCR test taken within the 72 hours before arrival, or an antigen test taken within the 24 hours before arrival.
Children under the age of five are exempt from the testing requirement.
The Greek government also “strongly recommends” that you take a rapid antigen test on both days two and four after arrival, though this is not enforced.
Everyone must complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before travel.
What are the Covid rules and guidelines in Greece?
You’ll need a proof of vaccination certificate handy (on your phone or hard copy) to access a lot of places.
In autumn, Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that from 22 November, people who cannot show proof of full vaccination (two doses) would be barred from most indoor spaces – even if they test negative for Covid-19. The NHS Covid Pass is recognised as equivalent to the EU’s vaccine pass in Greece.
At present, unvaccinated people cannot enter enclosed eating areas, entertainment facilities, museums, exhibition centers, fitness centers and sports venues.
They can enter outdoor eating areas, retail shops, hair salons, public and private sector workplaces, churches, and schools if they have a negative PCR test result not older than 72 hours.
Supermarkets, bakeries, sweet shops, pharmacies, and urban public transportation remain open to all. The strict vaccine passport rules are expected to remain in place until at least 31 March 2022.
Anyone taking a domestic flight within Greece needs either proof of full vaccination or a recent negative Covid test result.
As with international arrivals, the definition of “full vaccination” is proof of two doses or more, with the latest jab having been received within the past 270 days. Once 270 days has passed since your second jab, you will need a booster in order for your Covid Pass to remain valid.
Greece follows Austria, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in limiting access for unvaccinated citizens and tourists now their vaccine programmes have been rolled out.
“This is indeed a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Mr Mitsotakis in November.
“Greece is mourning unnecessary losses because it simply does not have the vaccination rates of other European countries.”
The country has seen a slow vaccination rollout, with only 62 per cent of the population jabbed so far.
Mask-wearing is required in enclosed public spaces, and where social distancing cannot be maintained. This usually amounts to museums and attractions, entering and being seated in restaurants, at large-scale events and in taxis or on public transport.
Since late December, the rules have been tightened to require either double surgical masks, or more protective FPP2 masks, on public transport and in “indoor public spaces”.
That said, businesses are largely open, with no curfews and with hygiene protocols in place.
How will this affect tourists visiting the country?
Greece is one of the countries that doesn’t insist on full vaccination for incoming tourists – instead, you can provide proof of a negative test or proof of recovery (in addition to needing to fill in a passenger locator form).
However, once there, unvaccinated tourists will have to abide by the same rules as unvaccinated Greek residents, and will be unable to enter the above indoor or crowded venues. You’ll need to keep your proof of vaccination handy, if you have it, and bring a good amount of face masks to comply with the current mask rules.
Meanwhile, vaccinated British tourists will be able to use their NHS Covid Pass to visit the country test-free, and enter the indoor spaces, following its approval by the EU on 29 October.
What about returning from Greece to the UK?
Until 4am on 11 February, vaccinated travellers coming to the UK will need to book a “day two” post-arrival test and include an order reference number for it on their Passenger Locator Form, which must be completed within the 48 hours before travel.
Until this date and time, unvaccinated travellers must take a pre-departure lateral flow test or PCR test in the 48 hours before travelling home; fill in a Passenger Locator Form; book a day two PCR test and include the order reference number on their PLF; self-isolate at home for 10 days after arrival and take a day eight PCR test during isolation.
From 4am on 11 February, vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK from 4am on 11 February onwards no longer have to test either side of travel. They must still fill in the Passenger Locator Form.
From this date and time, unvaccinated travellers to the UK must take a pre-departure lateral flow test or PCR test in the 48 hours before travel; fill in a Passenger Locator Form; and book a “day two” test for the day of arrival or one of the two days after it. They do not need to quarantine or self-isolate unless their test is positive.