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.
He 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 farm workers.
“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 August 4, 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.
Petsas said the extended targeted testing at the Albanian border confirmed the findings of random testing, with eight arrivals testing positive out of a total of 866 in Kakavia and 170 out of 19,676 at Promachonas in July. In the last week, he added, a constantly increasing number of crossings were observed in both directions at all twelve land border checkpoints apart from Promachonas, leading experts to recommend additional containment measures.
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 farm workers who are currently in Greece but who leave before August 4, 2020 will not have the right to return until further notice.
Live, weekly briefings on the state of the coronavirus in Greece will 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, July 19, 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.