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Kilometer-long queues at Greek-Bulgarian border crossing. Guess why…

Kilometers-long queues reaching up to 20 km were formed at the Greek-Bulgarian border crossing Promachonas on Monday as travelers from the neighboring country and other states wanted to come into Greece the day it opened its gates to foreigners without enforced quarantine.

Tourists and professional drivers were waiting for hours to cross and the queues in Bulgarian reach up to 15-20 km. Some were reportedly trapped at the borders for over 10 hours and spent the night in their cars.

The problem reportedly arose because there was confusion as to when the tourists could cross without quarantine.

As the Greek government ‘forgot’ to make it clear with an announcement, travellers thought that the quarantine-free passage would started right after Sunday midnight, while the decision of official gazette was saying “12 o’ clock noon Monday, June 15.”

The border were initially scheduled to open right after midnight, notes daily ethnos.

Finally, the government decided to give green light at 11 a.m. in order to put an end to the torture of thousands of travellers and their families.

Staff from the Greek National Health Organization EODY is at the border crossing to perform sampling tests.
Those tested should be reportedly in one-day quarantine until the results out. If tests positive, they should be in quarantine for 14 days.

According to local media, a large percentage of travelers at Promachonas are from Bulgaria and Romania, while there are also Greeks traveling from Germany as well as tourists from Italy and Switzerland.

Some Serbs made the long journey in vain, just to find out that they are allowed to Greece on July 1.

Two families of travelers, told grtimes, that they were assured by the embassy and the travel agency that they could travel to Greece on June 15. They bought tickets to the islands and booked their accommodation. They said that they had to drive back.

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  1. What can i say… All list of countries who can enter change on one hour…

    • They literally just told US citizens today that the date has changed. What revenue is the PM going to get from Bulgaria for christ’s sake. They are going to spike cases without earning any money. The professionals in Greece I know who work in tourism are waiting for UK or US citizens so they can make some money this year. These other ones will bring you maybe some new cases but zero lefta. ade topa.

      • You will not see much of US tourists this year in Greece. I can bet most of them will be arriving with private yachts, and that is not really a huge crowd. If you count on them spending much aside for docking costs, they tend to bring their own food with them.

        Also note that the amount of money is earned from tourists depends highly on region of Greece.

        Balkan countries tend to have lower income, but naturally tend to visit more northern parts of Greece in large numbers such as (Halkidiki, Tasos), or western (Lefkada) which they can easily reach by ground transport.

        Given the fact that locations on north of Greece are generally not nowhere near premium segment, it does not hurt much to appreciate those “poor” tourists more.

        This is beneficial for multiple reasons:
        – there are lot’s of them
        – they tend to book late either-way, so if given the fair deals they may make last minute decisions.
        – they tend not to complain too much about bad accommodation (my favorite picture is German grandma complaining about the state of rooms in 5 star hotel 🙂 )
        – they do not rely much on hotel accommodations, which lowers the infection probability considerably. (tourists need to be out of the their mind to book a hotel this year – their restaurants are like large Petri-dishes)
        – also note that income they bring will directly benefit common Greek people in contrast to the large hotel operators not necessarily owned by Greek companies.
        – they do not exactly belong to paranoid segment, like northern nations which will keep “trusting” each other than e.g. southern country with way less deaths (e.g. lots of Germans will spend the time in Netherlands and vice versa).
        – if they get infected it is totally feasible for them to return with their own vehicles (IMHO: this is better for both Greece and them)

        In contrast to that, all other tourists have to travel by air, which in case of US or UK tourists frequently means booking multiple flights. Every such transfer radically increases the chance of bringing the corona to Greece, especially given the situation in US and UK. In addition it is more difficult to arrange “transport” for them back in case they are infected (without dedicated airlift, nobody will accept to transport them back).

        I have German friends and all of then put a lot of doubts on Greece (and other Balkan countries) corona numbers. In fact they believe their country did way better than Greece (and others from Balkan), and if you show the numbers, they will claim the government concealed number of the deaths. Even if you manage to persuade them to come: they will demand huge discounts.

        • I am Greek American. The people I know with boats moor and go out to eat. And we spend for lunch and dinner and beyond, cmon. I won’t be on a yacht, I’ll arrive in mid July, if they don’t change the dates again like they did to these poor people here. I understand some of your logic, and I am happy if it works. The Greek Americans do not go to resorts though. And we spend. Everyone in Greece I talk to knows this and wants UK and US there this year. The Germans don’t spend. For example I just booked a week house (a whole house) for two people. The owner was surprised; Euros will jam 8 people into a 1400 eur a week house (IF they even book it), us we have two people and we book it. I know what you mean about the planes. It’s a shame. I just want them to either say Yes or No already so we can make other plans, and I don’t want them making another mistake like they did today with people from Serbia. That is ridiculous and I can understand how upset they are as they should be. Also, yes I know Lefkada is packed with slavs. You do not hear Greek on the beaches there in the summer. If you like that sort of thing I guess go for it. What I find troubling is this idea that everyone from US or UK will be carrying some virus, it’s not true. I have 10 million people in my city the size of Greece, out of 10 million people 22k is not even 1 percent. I’ll test here before I go. there are 1.5 million Greeks in America, they need to tell us already. Mitsotakis wants us but Merkel wants to keep the EU closed. If you let people in from Belgium, Spain, France or Netherlands they all have similar epidemiological data per capita to the US. So it is not about health but politics this decision. I don’t want to hear a day before we are scheduled to go that they extend the closing, this will ruin the relationship with the Greek diaspora here. I am already making alternate plans to either Florida California or somewhere in case this happens.

        • Also, most of us Fly direct and planes have very clean air. 3 hepa filters. This is kind of pseudoscience you are pushing here.

          I booked all private homes this summer to the amount of around 8k usd. That money goes to Greeks.

          And every Greek I talk to does not echo the sentiment you have about slavs spending…at all…

          anyway let me know if you hear any updates on US citizens and I hope this all works out for the best.

        • Well said.

  2. Greek media are silent about what amounts to an international scandal, namely that after a month long talk about welcoming tourists from the Balkans, issuing lists and what not, a large group of Serbian citizens, me included, was just returned from the border between Bulgaria and Greece this afternoon, with the explanation that only EU citizens can enter Greece. This information was only issued after all those people arrived st the border. It also makes a lot of sense to let in EU tourists because, as we know, there were no infections in the EU, correct? So, banning non-EU citizens from entering is not a political decision and is clearly in the interest of protecting the publici health in Greece. Bravo for the confusing campaign and ignorant epidemiological response. I am sure EU will appreciate the gesture when they distribute the recovery funds!

    • keeptalkinggreece

      when were you told you are not allowed? at the borders, right? any report about it on Serbian media?

      • only after the scandal broke out were the Serbian ministry and media informed

        • keeptalkinggreece


          • Yeah, I can confirm this. *Allegedly* Greek Ambassador in Belgrade did confirm to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, that Greece will open the borders to Serbian tourists starting form June 15th.

            This was widely published in Serbian media, and (as expected from my fellow Serbs), it did not take much time to pack the things and hit the road. IMHO: looks like a case of broken inter-state communication combined with eagerness to use already booked holidays.

  3. On Serbian media there was news that our and your ministers are agreded on entering Greece from Monday. You write about list of 29 countries who can enter, and then your goverment make decision on 14. June in evening about change. Many Serbian are on border waithing. Me also waithing for news hoping to get to Greece tomorow from when I payed for acomodation…

    • keeptalkinggreece

      is it’s true that the Greek government made a last minute change? read something on social media but without source.

    • I’ve been refused to board on my flight. I received 0 money and no new ticket in return by company because it was less than 24hrs. It is shame that noone could inform us, even embassy didn’t have that information available.

  4. yes, on June 12 they agreed to continue as agreed, and to let Serbian tourists in. Serbian Minister who was at that meetingeting, Dačić, is in shock but is generous enough to attribute this to “an internal Greek error” , that’s the latest from Serbian media. There is no way around the fact that the Greeks scandalously bungled this one.