For travellers heading to Europe, summer vacations just got a lot easier. Italy and Greece relaxed some COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday before Europe’s peak summer tourist season, signifying that life was increasingly returning to normal.
Greece’s civil aviation authority announced that it was lifting all COVID-19 rules for international and domestic flights except for wearing face masks during flights and at airports.
Previously, air travellers were required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or a recent recovery from the disease.
As of Sunday, visitors to Italy no longer have to fill out the EU passenger locator form, a complicated online ordeal required at airport check-in.
Italy also did away with the health pass required to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and other venues. The green pass, which shows proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus or a recent negative test, is still required to access hospitals and nursing homes.
In Italy, some indoor mask mandates also ended, including inside supermarkets, workplaces, and stores. Masks are still required on public transport, cinemas, healthcare facilities, and nursing homes.
In Greece, where tourism accounts for about 20% of its GNP, enforcing the rules had already fallen off before Sunday. On the tourist island of Mykonos, revellers flooded beaches, bars and restaurants the previous weekend for the Orthodox Easter holiday.
Some owners said business was the best they had seen in years and expected that to continue for the long May Day weekend. Vaccination certificates in Greece were abolished, not permanently, but from May 1 to August 31, and it will be determined in August whether to bring them back.
Also suspended were restrictions on the number of customers in indoor spaces. But masks are still required indoors and in vehicles in Greece, and experts recommend using them outdoors in crowded situations like concerts.
Business owners said many unvaccinated people were among those enjoying the end of COVID-19 restrictions.