Greece is tightening entry requirements on international travelers starting December 19, the Greek Ministry of Health announced.
On Wednesday, Greece had requested all visitors to submit a PCR test but late on Thursday, it determined that a rapid antigen test will also be accepted as valid proof to enter the territory.
The new requirement applies to all tourists aged 5 and up regardless of their vaccination status.
PCR testing must be completed within 72 hours of arrival, while rapid tests must be performed within 24 hours of arrival, according to the latest amendment.
“As part of the Covid-19 pandemic control effort, our country will receive visitors from all countries with the demonstration of negative molecular control (PCR) for 48 hours,” said the Ministry.
The measure may appear rather inconvenient when imposed a week before Christmas, but Greece’s epidemiology situation is pushing the government to take unpopular action.
Last Tuesday, Greece recorded its highest daily death toll since the pandemic struck with 130 deaths and 5,736 new coronavirus cases.
The National Organization for Public Health (EODY) also reported 700 intubated patients in Greece’s ICUs in its daily briefing.
The majority of those patients are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated (81.14%), with the remaining patients (18.86%) being fully vaccinated.
To make matters worse, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), at least five people in Greece have tested positive for the highly-contagious Omicron variant.
Other EU, as well as non-EU countries have strengthened restrictions on visitors and inbound and even outbound flights this week.
For instance, Italy reintroduced pre-departure COVID-19 testing for all EU visitors and reimposed a 5-day quarantine for the unvaccinated starting Dec. 15.
The measures will be enforced from Dec. 16 to Jan. 31.
France, for its part, has reestablished a travel ban on most visitors from the UK. the travel restriction will go into effect on December 18 and will last until further notice.
Non-EU countries, such as Canada, have asked their citizens to avoid any foreign travel for the next four weeks in order to slow down the inevitable new wave of Omicron infections.