Arrivals must show negative COVID test, take 2nd on landing

Greece opens to Israeli tourists, lifts restrictions on numbers and destinations

Athens cancels curbs on number of Israeli travelers allowed and on where they can visit, despite Jerusalem’s inability to gain control over virus

The departure hall at the Ben Gurion International Airport on August 16, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
The departure hall at the Ben Gurion International Airport on August 16, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Greece will no longer cap the number of Israeli tourists allowed in the country or limit their movements to a handful of cities, the Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.

Israeli tourists will still require a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before traveling to Greece and will be required to take an additional test upon landing.

The Monday announcement came after a conversation between Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, during which the latter relayed the news regarding Athens’s new travel policy, the Foreign Ministry said.

Ashkenazi said in a statement that the easing of restrictions “is proof of the strong ties” between Greece and Israel.

The Foreign Ministry statement did not specify when the new policies would be put into place in Greece.

People gather in front of the Kapnikarea Orthodox church after the midnight closure of the restaurant and bars in Athens, August 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The announcement came despite the spiraling situation in Israel, where the government has failed to gain control of the virus, shooting Israel to the very top of the list of countries with the most confirmed daily cases per capita.

On August 26, Greece announced that it would allow up to 1,200 Israelis to visit per week, double the previously allowed amount.

The changes went into effect on September 1 and will be in force until September 15, according to a ministry statement at the time.

Israelis have to date been confined to Athens, Crete, Thessaloniki, and Corfu.

Greece was one of three Balkan states that last month began allowing Israelis to enter their territories without an automatic quarantine requirement. The other two are Bulgaria and Croatia.

Most countries continue to bar visitors from Israel. Only countries that have more lax entry requirements, such as Brazil, the US, Mexico, Kenya, and others allow in Israelis, though in some cases, they must still present negative COVID-19 tests or quarantine upon entry.

Israel has also more or less closed its borders to foreign nationals since March.

Last month, Israel began allowing Israelis traveling from a number of “green” countries with limited outbreaks to enter the country without needing to quarantine.

Israel also decided last month to allow thousands of foreign students into the country, despite coronavirus travel restrictions.

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