The Greek government wants to monitor who will come into the country from Wednesday this week with complicated online registration and approval procedures. The procedure is likely to deter older travelers to Greece who struggle with computers and smartphones. But business travelers who have to book a flight at short notice are also slowed down.
Another shortcoming: The website travel.gov.gr, on which the registration has to be made, is only available in English. The procedure does not apply to the British and Americans at first. Germany had the highest number of visitors to Greece in the past year.
From July 1, Hellas will reopen its regional and island airports for international traffic. It should be a dynamic restart. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis traveled to the Cyclades island of Santorini two weeks ago to announce to the international media against the backdrop of a picturesque sunset: “Greece has reopened.”
The prime minister tried to spread confidence. The reality is rather unpleasant for the travelers. The travel rules are not relaxed, but tightened – and at very short notice.
As of Wednesday, entry into Greece is only possible if you have registered 48 hours in advance on a website of the Greek civil protection authority and have received a confirmation. If you want to travel on Wednesday, you must have registered on this Monday at the latest.
The applicant will then receive a barcode from the Greek civil protection authority by email or on his mobile phone, which he must show upon entry. The barcode shows whether the visitor still has to undergo a corona virus test at the airport. The traveler himself only learns of this on arrival.
Those who do have to remain in quarantine in their hotel room until the test is evaluated. Based on previous experience, this can take up to 36 hours – a long time if you want to go on vacation.
The profiles according to which the travelers to be tested are determined remain secret. When registering, visitors must provide around three dozen details. Questions are asked, among other things, about flight number, name, home address, ID number, age, telephone numbers and email address, visits to other countries, names, addresses and telephone numbers of contact persons and the address at which you can access Greece in the next 14 days is bad luck for campers and backpackers.
The applicant does not find out on the website what the information is used for, where and for how long it is stored. When asked by the Handelsblatt on Sunday, the Greek government said that the data collected would be “anonymized”. Names would not be saved. There are no references to data protection on the website.
Are motion profiles possibly created based on the cell phone numbers in order to be able to track possible infections? In recent weeks, the Greek authorities have used cell phone data to monitor quarantine compliance.
Tour operators and airlines are displeased that the new rules were only announced on the weekend and will apply from Wednesday. “Of course we would have liked to know about it earlier in order to be able to adapt to the new procedures,” says the Greece representative of a major European airline. It is open what should happen to visitors who did not know about the obligation to register and who arrive in Greece without a barcode – will you be sent back?
Greece has so far weathered the corona epidemic better than most other European countries. The number of Covid 19 deaths is low at 18 per million inhabitants (Germany: 109). The reproduction number R0 is 0.31 (Germany: 0.83). This increases the fear that foreign tourists could bring in the virus. The new travel rules reflect this concern.
The restrictions are particularly problematic for business travelers. Short-term appointments can therefore no longer be kept. Anyone wishing to travel on Wednesdays must submit an application no later than Monday. The government informed the Handelsblatt that the procedures for business travelers would be “accelerated”. Anyone who is tested must be in quarantine for at least one night.
As of Wednesday, business trips to Greece will become time-consuming and possibly expensive trips when return flights have to be rebooked and additional hotel stays have to be paid for.
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