he Greek Health Ministry’s expert committee on Friday announced a strict protocol for the entry of travelers to Greece from South African countries where cases of a newly identified Covid-19 variant, called B.1.1.529 or ‘Botswana variant’, have been identified.
According to the protocol, from Saturday, November 27, passengers traveling from the southern African countries of Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini, Zambia and Malawi, will be allowed entry to Greece strictly:
– for essential reasons
– if they have a negative PCR test with them (performed within 72 hours before travel), regardless of their vaccination status
– if they have a special entry permit issued by a local embassy, consulate or consular authority that represents Greece (for cities that do not have a Greek Embassy).
Upon arrival, all travelers from the aforementioned countries will undergo a mandatory Covid-19 rapid test at the airport.
After entering Greece, all travelers from the aforementioned countries will be restricted to quarantine hotels for 10 days and then re-tested via the PCR method. Those who test negative will be released from quarantine.
It is noted that Greece does not have direct flights from the aforementioned southern African countries.
EU tells members to pull ’emergency brake’
Following the news about the new highly mutated Covid variant, the European Commission earlier on Friday proposed that Member States activate the “emergency brake” on travel from countries in southern African and other countries affected to limit the spread of the new variant.
“All air travel to these countries should be suspended until we have a clear understanding about the danger posed by this new variant. And travellers returning from this region should respect strict quarantine rules,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
The Commission’s president reminded that Covid mutations could lead to the emergence and spread of even more concerning variants of the virus that could spread worldwide within a few months.
“It is now important that all of us in Europe act very swiftly, decisively and united,” she highlighted.