Greece restricts border crossings to limit COVID-19 spread

Rules will be tightened for foreign seasonal workers, as well

Greece will restrict its land border entry points into the country to just six, in order to better control the spread of coronavirus in view of the upsurge in cases in neighboring Balkan countries, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas announced on Monday. The decision envisions stricter rules for foreign seasonal workers, as well.

Petsas explained that, while the only border crossing for tourists was at Promachonas, where those wishing to cross the border must now produce a certified negative PCR test for Covid-19 taken within the last 72 hours, the other land border crossings have been open for essential travel, for Greek citizens and for those that had residence permits for people coming to work, such as seasonal farmworkers.

“Since the epidemiological curve in the Balkan countries is rising, there is a greater chance that positive cases will pass on to the interior. For this reason, we have taken these decisions and these measures to restrict movement in order to better control the flows,” Petsas said, adding that the government will be constantly assessing the effectiveness of the measures.

The ruling will be in place until 4 August, when the regulation may be changed once again.

Greek citizens often cross the border into the neighboring Balkan states in order to avail themselves of cheaper prices for consumer goods there. But Petsas announced that, as of this Wednesday, overland entry or departures into and out of Greece for essential reasons will only be possible through the border crossings at Kakavia, Krystallopigi, Evzones, Promachonas, Nymphaia and Kipi.

In addition, Greek citizens and those with residence permits or holders of an expatriate ID will also be required to fill in a Passenger Locator Form (PLF), to be found at the website www.travel.gov.gr. He appealed to Greek citizens to avoid non-essential travel to areas with a high epidemiological load, as was currently the case in the Balkans.

The government spokesman also warned that seasonal workers who are currently in Greece but who leave before 4 August, 2020 will not have the right to return until further notice. 

“Land workers that exit the country before 4 August will not be able to return until further notice,” Petsas stressed.

Last year, more than 10,000 seasonal workers were employed in Greece’s agricultural sector, mainly from Albania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

Live, weekly briefings on the state of the coronavirus in Greece will also resume once again as of Tuesday, after a hiatus of more than two months, when the virus was thought to have been mitigated. Instead of the nation’s famed epidemiologist Sotiris Tsiodras, Greece’s Chief of Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias, will preside at the press conferences.

As of Sunday, 19 July, there were over 4,000 coronavirus infections in Greece, including all those who have recovered, with 613 of those recorded just in the first nineteen days of July, after the nation opened its borders to tourists from most of the world.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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