Why Greece is unlikely to go on red list at the next traffic-light travel review

August 23, 2021 6:34 pm(Updated August 23, 2021 6:35 pm)

Holidaymakers with plans to visit Greece, and those who are already there, face a nervous wait to see if the Mediterranean destination can keep its place on the amber list at the next traffic light review, expected on Wednesday.

The holiday hotspot has been amber, which allows for quarantine-free travel for the fully vaccinated, since foreign travel restarted in May. 

Greece recently suffered a spike in Covid cases. However the outbreak appears to have peaked five days ago, on 15 August, when new cases hit a rolling seven day average of 3,276.

Case rates have since fallen slightly to 3,141. While 52 per cent of the population of Greece is now fully vaccinated against the virus.

What traffic-light rating does Greece currently have?

Greece failed to go green at the last traffic-light reshuffle on August 4 and is still on the amber list.

This means that you’ll need to be fully vaccinated to travel quarantine-free.

If you are not fully vaccinated you can still travel to Greece but you’ll need to quarantine for 10 days at home on your return as well as take an extra PCR test on day eight.

When is the next travel update expected? 

The next travel update is expected to be announced in the usual way, via a series of tweets by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, on either Wednesday 25 August or Thursday 26 August.

Could Greece go red? 

It’s very unlikely. Daily case rates in Greece are dropping and the Beta variant, which had previously caused the Government some concern, is now being outperformed by the Delta variant across Europe.

According to travel expert Tim White, who spoke exclusively to about his predictions for the next traffic-light update, travellers to Greece and the rest of the UK’s most popular amber-list destinations can rest easy. 

The traffic light system is decided based on the following criteria:

  • The percentage of a country’s population that have been vaccinated
  • The rate of infection
  • The prevalence of variants of concern
  • The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing

There are now four traffic-light categories, one more than when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps first announced the system in May 2021.

Green: arrivals must take a pre-departure test three days before returning to the UK as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their return. Quarantine does not apply (unless the Covid-19 test returns positive) and there is no requirement for additional tests.
Green watchlist: the same rules as the green list. However, countries on this list are “at risk of moving from green to amber”, potentially at very short notice.
Amber: all travellers must take a pre-departure test three days before return as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their return. Unvaccinated travellers must also self-isolate for 10 days and take a second PCR test on day eight. An optional extra day-five test can be taken, with a negative result allowing unvaccinated travellers to “test out” of quarantine. The day-eight PCR test must still be taken regardless of the result of the optional day-five PCR test.
Red: arrivals from red list countries must undertake a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing, and mandatory PCR testing on or before day two and on or after day eight. The price of staying in a quarantine hotel has risen – for bookings made on or after 4am on 12 August it costs £2,285 for a single adult (there are extra charges for more people in a family group). The previous price was £1,750 per single adult.

The data analyst, who has an excellent track record deciphering the Government’s notoriously opaque criteria, said: “For those worried about their destinations turning red, I don’t think there are many worries for usual tourist destinations.

“I very much doubt any EU destination will be affected. So Greece, Spain and their islands, Cyprus, Portugal etc. are all expected to stay amber with Beta variant almost squeezed out now.”

What do I need to do to enter Greece?

All travellers above the age of 12 must complete a passenger locator form before arrival in Greece.

They must also have proof of a negative PCR test, taken within the 72-hour period before arrival, or a negative rapid antigen taken 48 hours before your arrival or proof of vaccination. 

Greece also accepts proof of recovery from Covid-19 in the form of a positive PCR test result taken between 30 and 180 days of your travel dates.

What’s the latest on the Greek forest fires?

Two separate wildfires are still burning just outside Athens as of today.

Both fires have mostly abated, with firefighters on the scene still working to keep the flames at bay. 

Last night a major wildfire burned homes in the village of Vilia, 40 miles northwest of Athens, before the “greatest part” of the outbreak was brought under control, according to Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis.

A separate fire 40 miles to the southeast of Athens, near the port town of Lavrio, was also beaten back with the help of water-bombing planes and helicopters.

Much of Greece is still under a Category 4 Very High Risk warning, including the south-east Peloponnese, most of the Attica region around Athens. and the islands of Lesbos, Lemnos and Chios.

The southern half of the island of Evia, which witnessed terrible destruction when the north of the island was destroyed earlier this month, is also under a Very High Risk warning.