Coronavirus in Santorini – The Latest
Last Update: May 29th, 2020. Santorini is still covonavirus (Covid-19) free. A couple of suspicious cases have tested negative. I update this post daily. Stay tuned and drop me a message via e-mail or at the comments section below if you have any questions.
Greece is opening it’s borders for 29 countries on June 15th
Travelers coming from Albania, Australia, Austria, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Romania, New Zealand, Norway , Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Finland will be able to enter Greece without restrictions. That means that from June 15th, 2020, tourists will not need to undergo medical tests before flying to Greece, nor they will be placed under quarantine upon arrival. A few random tests will be applied at the airports though.
For the rest of the countries (United States, Italy, France, United Kingdom, etc.) the restrictions will be remained for now. The list of the “black-listed” countries will be constantly updated based on the epidemiological condition of the countries.
Please note that the only airports that will be accepting international flights from June 15th to June 30th will be the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki. From July 1st, all the Greek airports (including Santorini, Rhodes, Heraklion, Chania, etc.) will open for international flights.
The Greek government has announced that all-year hotels will open on June 1st. Depending on when air and sea links are restored, and if conditions allow, seasonal hotels will operate from the end of June or start in early July. Currently, the Greek Ministry of tourism is working on the tourism sanitation protocols.
Also, on May 2nd, two of the biggest hotels in Santorini announced that they won’t open for the 2020 season due to very low occupancy rates and high operating costs.
The impact of the Coronavirus in Santorini | Photos Before and After
Santorini looks like an abandoned place after the general lockdown that was announced by the Greek government. All the hotels on the island are now closed, and only residents can travel to Santorini. The restrictions are being applied without exceptions. The police are issuing tickets to everyone who doesn’t have specific permission to go outside. During the Greek Orthodox Easter, even the very religious Greek people are not allowed to attend church services in order to avoid the spread of the infection.
We are all scared and praying for the future. We all know that any case of Coronavirus could put the locals’ lives in danger. Unfortunately, Santorini is away from well-equipped health centers and many of the airlines have suspended most of their domestic flights. Thankfully the local doctors are all up to the task and the local hospital is taking all the necessary measures to fight the coronavirus should it arrive. As of today, there are no cases of coronavirus in Santorini. We are all following the government’s advice to keep ourselves healthy and safe. In addition to that, we are sending a clear worldwide message that Santorini will remain a safe destination thanks to the hard efforts of its people.
Unfortunately Mykonos has reported a few coronavirus case for 2020. All the construction and maintenance projects are shut down there. It still remains a mystery how an old lady from Mykonos has caught the virus since she hasn’t travel anywhere recently. The local authorities are now tracing her contacts to prevent the spread of the virus. The patient who is in critical condition due to the Covid-19 has been transferred from the health center of Mykonos by helicopter to a well-equipped hospital in Athens.
From the other side, the impact to the local economy of Santorini is already tremendous. Thousands of people have lost their jobs. Tourism had been a life savior for millions of Greeks after the country’s bailout a few years ago. Now all the Airbnb apartments and accommodations are empty. All Santorini tours and activities are shutdown. Greece has closed its ports to all cruise ships to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). Thousands of Greek families that were depending on the cruise ship industry have now no source of income. They are not all rich here and the future is unknown.
Every year, Santorinian’s spend millions of euros to get ready for the tourist season. What travelers are not aware of, is that the maintenance costs of the properties here are extremely high. The all-year round moisture rots everything from the vehicles to the houses. The white-washed homes that everyone admires require thousands of euros to paint them every year. Being a remote island, makes things even more expensive because of the transportation costs from and to the mainland.
This time last year, the island was already full of life. Now there is nothing outside but cats and dogs. Thankfully the local people are still taking care of the homeless animals. Most of the destination weddings are being postponed for later this year or for 2021. Aspiring brides and the local wedding industry remain optimistic that couples will eventually walk down the aisle in 2020. Entrepreneurs still hope that at some point the virus will get under control and tourism will return.
Following the worldwide situation, the paths of Oia that used to be full of tourists, are now empty and extremely quiet. You can hear only the wind. The emblematic blue domed churches, where everybody used to take pictures at, are now alone and mostly abandoned. The crowded spots where people were queuing for a life-time picture couldn’t be emptier. Now access is not allowed there, even for the residents.
I went for a walk in Oia right before the government announcing the strict measures. Below you can see some picture displays of how Santorini looked before the coronavirus crisis and how it looks now. We all hope for the best.
Please stay healthy and we look forward to welcoming you to the beautiful Santorini someday in the nearby future.
If you have any questions or need any clarification from a local, don’t hesitate to drop me a message via e-mail or via the comments section below.
Kristo Di Giorio
April 23rd update: The Greek government has just announced that Greece will start to loose some of the restrictions from May 4th, 2020. But we still don’t know the precise plan yet. I will keep you posted.
But there is still hope. The Greek people are waiting patiently for the end of the pandemic. The first who will arrive to Santorini will enjoy a silent, yet amazing place like the one shown below. We are all looking forward to welcome you in Greece.
About the author: Kristo di Giorio is a local Greek photographer and head photographer of Studio Kristo.