Greece expands approved list for incoming EU flights

ATHENS (AFP) – Greece on Saturday expanded its list of approved flights from European Union (EU) destinations to include airports in countries hard-hit by the coronavirus, but flights from the worst-hit regions will still be subject to quarantine measures.

“It will now depend on airport of origin, not country (of origin),” a government official told AFP.

For France, the quarantine measures will apply to flights from the Ile-de-France region in and around Paris, officials said. For Italy, airports in the northern regions of Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Piemonte and Veneto are considered high-risk.

The same holds for Spanish airports in Castile and Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia and Madrid, all areas hit hard by the coronavirus.

Britain has 13 high-risk airports including Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.

But Edinburgh, which before the pandemic had direct flights to Greece, is not on the list.

A foreign ministry document on Saturday said Greece drew upon the recommendations of the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to determine which EU airports were still high-risk.

And future flight policy will be based on EASA’s notifications that are renewed on a weekly basis, a second government official said.

From June 15 to 30, flights will only be allowed into Athens and Thessaloniki. Other regional and island airports will open on July 1.

“If your travel originated from an airport not in the EASA affected area list… then you are only subject to random tests upon arrival,” the ministry said.

“If you originate from an airport on the EASA affected area list, then you will be tested upon arrival,” it added.

“An overnight stay at a designated hotel is required. If the test is negative then the passenger self-quarantines for seven days. If the test is positive, the passenger is quarantined under supervision for 14 days,” the ministry said.

“Compulsory testing and quarantine will be limited only to travellers, irrespective of nationality”, it added.

On Friday, Greece announced 29 countries as safe points of departure in a long-awaited statement.

The list included over a dozen EU countries but Britain, France, Italy and Spain were not among them owing to the spread of the pandemic there.

Certain flights into Athens international airport were still allowed during the lockdown for state affairs, cargo, emergencies and other purposes, but passengers entering the country had to quarantine.

Since May 4, Greece progressively opened tourism-related businesses following a lockdown imposed in March to stave off an economic contraction that could reach 13 per cent of output this year.

Year-round hotels are to resume operations today, followed by seasonal hotels on June 15.