We booked a last minute trip to Zante after we heard that restrictions for quarantine were lifted in Greece. From our own research it appeared that Greece have managed well with Covid with only 4000ish cases and 200ish deaths (mostly on the mainland). We were a little apprehensive of what to expect in terms of health checks and covid safety and so thought we would share our experiences to inform others.
What to consider 48 hours before
Greece requires you to complete a Passenger Locator Form form for Covid purposes. You MUST complete this at least 48 hours before you go or you will not be allowed to fly. We saw people being turned away from the airport because they hadn’t completed these and you have to do them in advance so that you receive a QR code via email. You can either print this or show a paper copy but you must have this.
If you had a pre-exisisting policy pre March 2020 generally this will cover you for Covid expenses; however you will need to check for cover. The EHIC card does offer some protection. It should be noted that the Greek government will pay for any Covid expenses such as isolation and treatment should you test positive on arrival or during your stay. It is the responsibility of the passenger to report any COVID symptoms during your stay.
At the airport
Any travel to the airport which is undertaken by public transport or taxi you have to wear a mask. We travelled by taxi and went from Heathrow Terminal 5. Upon arrival at the airport you have to wear your mask the whole time you are in there except for if you stop and have a coffee or something to eat. There are hand sanitising stations by the entrance and queues at check in are managed by social distancing. Due to the requirements of the QR codes we were not allowed to check in online prior to our flight and had to join the check in queue. This is where you are turned away if you have not completed the Passenger Locator Form.
Going through security is very much the same; it was quiet when we went probably because of the apprehension of people travelling just yet but this was managed well also. The shops had social distancing measures in place such as a limited amount of people allowed in and floor markings. There wasn’t a great selection of dining options as many were still shut so you may wish to bring your own food, buy something from a coffee shop or a Boots meal deal as we did. The pubs weren’t open and as far as we could see neither were the lounges. Within the terminal seats have been blocked off so you can’t sit too close to others not in your family group or ‘bubble’.
At the boarding gate we were called in rows to board the plane, allowing for the least exposure to others. The QR codes were checked as were passports and boarding passes. Still with our masks on the boarded and were handed a sanitising pack by cabin crew. There was no checking of boarding passes but no limitations on seats either as it was quite a full flight . We were fortunate enough that we had exit seats and a row to ourselves. The flight itself was pleasant; you pressed the overhead button if you wanted assistance and we were also given a sealed snack pack. Just to note that our experiences may differ from others; we flew with British Airways and it felt safe.
Arrival at Zakynthos Airport
Departing from the airplane was more civilised than usual; perhaps because people were in no rush, however we departed row by row and got on a small bus which took us to the terminal. The numbers on the bus appeared limited. Going through passport check was no issue but as soon as you get past there is someone to check your QR code and covid testing was undertaken. We were not picked but it did appear random and there were two desks set up for tests to be taken. It noted on the Greek website that should you be tested you should social distance for 24 hours until the results are back; however on the Gov.uk website this said self isolate. We were not advised anything specific and so went about our daily business.
In Zakynthos there is a recommendation of wearing masks in shops and in public enclosed areas. Certainly on public transport and taxis this is a must. At this time however it is very easy to socially distance from others and restaurants have spaced out tables so diners are spread out reducing the chance of exposure. We hired a car for the week to limit our exposure to people and the car was sanitised prior to collection.
So far so good…. we will update this post with any developments as they happen. Since our arrival we have become aware that tourists in the Balaerics and Canary Islands have to self isolate upon their return and there is a travel ban in place again for those areas.