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Corona lockdown in Greece

13. December 2020

Update: The Greek government has extended the nationwide lockdown until January 7, 2021.

The total lockdown began for us with a period of 3 weeks. This was still manageable and we were positive that it might be better around Christmas time. But when the 3 weeks were up, the lockdown was extended by a week. So we said ok we can do one more week now. The 4 weeks of total lockdown did not pass us without a trace – we looked a bit tousled on our heads. Therefore, we both longed for the current situation to be eased in order to go to the hairdresser.

But then there was another extension. And shortly thereafter, it was announced that the lockdown would be extended until January 7th. However, there should also be a small relaxation from December 14th, 2020. Hairdressers and small shops where you can buy clothes or other possible gifts will open. That gave us hope. So the first thing we did was make an appointment with the hairdresser. In fact, some shops have reopened. However, the shopping centers will remain closed. Hairdressers have also been open since Monday, December 14th and only allow appointments by agreement.

The Greek government wants to counteract the dormant Christmas business with a so-called “hybrid” process. So the purchase of Christmas presents should be made possible with the “click away” procedure. “Click” stands for an online order, “away” for “take away”. Buyers order from the online shop or over the phone. They can only collect their order in front of the store at a specified time, which the retailer informs them via SMS or email. Fittings then take place at home. Payment is exclusively cashless, either online in advance or by card.

In a big city like Athens this is probably also possible, but rather unlikely on an island like Naxos. Because most of the shops have no online presence here and, above all, no online shop where you can order certain items. As a result, a call is made in advance to find a time and then you just look from the shop window and choose the desired products.

Restaurants and other localities are still closed. Only a few snack bars that also deliver outside the home are still open. Therefore, we enjoy a delivery service and order something to eat from time to time. Overall, we are very pleased that there was a little relaxation just before Christmas. That we now have the opportunity to get some Christmas presents and have our hair done again for Christmas Eve.

Since November 7, 2020 6:00 a.m., Greece has been in total lockdown for 3 weeks. When leaving the house, an SMS must be sent to an official number. This must include the reason for the outcome. The wearing of masks is now mandatory inside and outside in Greece. Supermarkets and shops that are necessary for basic supplies, such as pharmacies, bakeries, butchers, weekly markets and petrol stations, remain open. Daycare centers and primary schools (up to 6th grade) will also be closed from Monday. Driving outside the region is prohibited.
Griechenland Bild auf den Fähren in Piräus

1. General information on the lockdown in Greece

This article should bring you closer to the current situation in Greece and tell you about our own experiences.

Wearing mouth and nose protection is mandatory everywhere, including outdoors, for all persons aged 4 and over. Public gatherings are not allowed. It is a general obligation to wear in all public, closed rooms, e.g. For customers and staff in supermarkets, all retail stores, public transport, taxis, medical practices, hospitals, hairdressing and beauty salons, bank branches and generally in offices with customer contact. There are also capacity limits on public transport, taxis and ferries.

The apartment may only be left between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. and only with a permit stating specific reasons:

  • Pharmacy or doctor’s visit (after consultation with the doctor)
  • Shopping in a store that does not deliver (e.g. supermarket)
  • Bank (if no electronic transaction is possible)
  • Official visits with a written appointment confirmation
  • Help for people in need or accompanying underage students to / from school
  • Participation in a ceremony (e.g. funeral, marriage, baptism, etc.)
  • Visits to exercise custody
  • Short-term training outdoors near the home or exercise with a pet, individually or up to two people (no collective sporting activities)

Current Corona numbers in Greece: 49,807 cases (as of November 6, accumulated cases since February)

As we already experienced in spring 2020, Greece had far fewer corona infected people than other holiday countries due to the early and consistent measures on the part of the government.

Such a crisis, which above all brought the travel industry to its knees, caused the start of the season in Greece to be postponed months. We also found that some facilities were open a little longer than usual in October to compensate for the postponed start of the season.

Blick von der Fähre während der Abfahrt von Piräus

2. These restrictions currently exist in Greece

We can understand if some people have concerns about their next vacation in Greece. Would you even want to go on vacation under such circumstances? Can you really relax and recover under the restrictions that Corona brings and really enjoy the vacation time?

Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves. We can only report on our own previous experience and show you what the current situation is in the Cyclades and which rules we take into account for public life.

Since then there has been a mask requirement for customers in Greek supermarkets. There are regular checks, which result in a fine of 150 € if the mask is not worn.

Since July 29th, customers are also required to wear a mask indoors (in shops). This includes bakeries, smaller shops, hairdressing salons, etc.

Ferries can currently only be used between 60-65%. Before boarding, a questionnaire about the current state of health must be filled out and there is a general distance of 1.5 m, which is regularly checked by the staff on the ferry. In addition, a mask is also required here.

From November 7th a lot more has changed. Since that day, Greece has been in total lockdown, initially for 3 weeks. Leaving the house is only allowed between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. and only with a permit stating specific reasons.

3. Current regulations for entry into Greece

(Online registration and sample tests)

When entering Greece from November 11th, all travelers must show a negative Covid-19 test from a recognized test laboratory in the country of departure with accompanying diagnosis in English and stating their name, address and passport / ID card number.

The test must not be older than 48 hours for air travel and 72 hours for land travel. From November 10th, the Passenger Locator Form should also be required for departures from Greece. Since July 1, 2020, the online form (PLF for short) must be completed before entering Greece. Registration is mandatory for all entries by sea, air and land. Enter the type of entry (plane, ferry, etc.), your home address and your place of residence in Greece. Each adult should fill out a separate form. Children can be listed as “further family members” with their parents. Travelers must have completed an online form at least 24 hours before departure.

After submitting the entries, you will receive a confirmation email for entry. A QR code is then generated based on the login data. The QR code will be sent by email (PDF file) the day before departure at 11 p.m. It must be presented on entry. If possible, we would also print out the PDF document. Otherwise you show the QR code on your own smartphone.

Click here for the online form: Passenger Locator Form

In individual cases, travelers can be asked to carry out a COVID-19 test on entry based on certain criteria. On the basis of the registration data received, a risk assessment is made that influences these criteria.

The test is free for travelers. Self-isolation must be maintained until the test result is available. According to the Ministry of Citizenship, the period of self-isolation is 24 hours. Onward travel to the destination address stated in the registration is permitted. Notification will only be sent to people who have tested positive.

Map der Inselhopping Route Nördliche Kykladen

4. Possible restrictions on entry to Greece in air, sea and land transport

The online registration requirement (PLF) is required in all cases. A negative PCR-COVID-19 test must also be presented.

Domestic and international flights to and from the “Makedonia” airport in Thessaloniki are currently prohibited until November 17, 2020. There are exceptional cases such as health, professional and family reasons. Direct air traffic from Germany to all international airports in Greece continues. The respective airline decides for itself whether the actual flight is carried out.

Flight connections from Greece to Turkey are still paused, this also applies to flight connections with North Macedonia, Catalonia and Albania with the exception of flights to and from Athens. Before starting your journey, you should inquire about the current situation on site on the websites of the German diplomatic missions abroad.

The ferry traffic between Greece and Italy continues. The ferry traffic with Albania and Turkey is again suspended until further notice. For the time being, cruise ships are no longer allowed to call at Greece.

Entry into Greece is still possible by land for some groups of people. These include Greek nationals, persons with a Greek residence permit and persons with proven permanent residence in Greece. In addition, entry can be granted if there are compelling professional reasons. The following border crossings are possible between 07:00 and 23:00: Kakavia (Albania), Krystallopigi (Albania), Evzoni (North Macedonia), Nymfaia (Bulgaria), Kipoi (Turkey). The Promachonas border crossing (Bulgaria) is largely open.

For all other groups of people, entry to Greece is for non-essential trips, e.g. for tourist purposes, only possible via Bulgaria and only via the Promachonas border crossing. Entry from Albania, North Macedonia or Turkey is still not allowed for tourist purposes.

It is essential to check and observe the travel and safety instructions from the Federal Foreign Office and the information on transit on the websites of the German missions abroad in advance.

5. Our entry and residence experiences in Greece from September 2020 until now

On September 3rd we flew from Hamburg with the Agean Airline to Athens. We spent an evening there and took the ferry from Piraeus to Naxos the next day. It was mandatory to wear a mask on the train and on the ferry. Ferry employees also checked this regularly. A mask also had to be worn in supermarkets.

Our time on Naxos so far has been very relaxed and balanced. Countless cafes, bars, restaurants and taverns were still open when we arrived. And so we were able to enjoy the Greek cuisine and other delicacies in the local cafes and bars. The staff always wore a mask and was very accommodating. The beaches we visited weren’t very busy, so we always had our peace and quiet to relax. At the beginning of October or in the middle of October it started that some catering stores were closed. Little by little, other shops are closing and even our beloved ice cream shop has been closing its doors since the end of October.

Nevertheless we noticed some tourist groups. Many Germans, French and also Italians have visited our new home Naxos.

From November 7th, a lot has changed for us. Total lockdown came through Greece. If we now want to go out, we send an SMS with the appropriate reason (such as “shopping in the supermarket”), our contact details, the time, the date and our address to an official number. Then a response comes with the permission of the exit. Alternatively, it is also possible to fill out a slip of paper with all this data and carry it with you if you don’t have a cell phone, for example. We have always filled out a slip of paper for each person and carried it with us. So far there has been no control. Fortunately, we also live a little further up on the island in more rural conditions, where the police are not so often present.

Info tip! All information on travel and exit restrictions in Greece for German citizens can be found on the website of the German representations in Greece: Greece Diplo

Map der Inselhopping Route Zentrale Kykladen

6. Current corona situation on the Greek island of Naxos

In general, there are fewer corona infections on the Greek islands. The natural isolation of the islands of Greece probably helps and prevents the corona infection from spreading even faster.

Although we can speak from our own experience that when the number of infections increases, they increase very quickly. So in mid-October we still had around 15 infected people to report here on Naxos. A few days later there were already 31 newly infected. Therefore, you always have to react quickly and consistently on the island. As in the spring, the Greek government reacted quickly with drastic measures.

Even if all of this may seem quite dramatic to outsiders, it feels more pleasant to us than it may sound. Fortunately, we live with Alex’s father and also in a small village away from the center, so everything is more relaxed and quieter here.

Here you have the great advantage that many residents have a house with a piece of land. That’s why everyone can get some fresh air in their own garden and stretch their legs a little. And to our great surprise, we still have plenty of warming sunny days during November.

So we really can’t complain. Nonetheless, we very much hope that the lockdown will have a quick effect and that we can then go back to normal reality a bit.

Good to have you here…  

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