The COVID-19 pandemic in Greece is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case in Greece was confirmed on 26 February 2020 when a 38-year-old woman from Thessaloniki who had recently visited Νorthern Italy, was confirmed to be infected. Subsequent cases in late February and early March related to people who had travelled to Italy and a group of pilgrims who had travelled to Israel and Egypt, as well as their contacts. The first death from COVID-19 in Greece was a 66-year-old man, who died on 12 March. Since the opening of the Greek borders to tourists at the end of June 2020, the daily number of confirmed cases announced has included those detected following tests at the country's entry points.
|COVID-19 pandemic in Greece|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Arrival date||26 February 2020|
(2 years, 5 months, 2 weeks and 3 days)
Following the confirmation of the first three cases in Greece, all carnival events in the country were cancelled on 27 February 2020. Health and state authorities issued precautionary guidelines and recommendations, while measures up to early March were taken locally and included the closure of schools and the suspension of cultural events in the affected areas (particularly Ilia, Achaea and Zakynthos). On 10 March, with 89 confirmed cases and no deaths in the country, the government decided to suspend the operation of educational institutions of all levels nationwide and then, on 13 March, to close down all cafes, sports leagues bars, museums, shopping centres, sports facilities and restaurants in the country. On 16 March, all retail shops were also closed and all services in all areas of religious worship of any religion or dogma were suspended. The government has announced a series of measures worth a total of around 24 billion euros, 14% of the country's GDP, to support the economy.
On 22 March, the Greek authorities announced restrictions on all non-essential movement throughout the country, starting from 6 a.m. on 23 March. From that date, movement outside the house was permitted only for seven categories of reasons: i) moving to or from one's workplace during work hours, ii) going to the pharmacy or visiting a doctor iii) going to a food store iv) going to the bank for services not possible online, v) assisting a person in need of help vi) going to a major ritual (funeral, marriage, baptism) or movement, for divorced parents, which is essential for contact with their children, and vii) moving outdoors for exercising or taking one's pet out, individually or in pairs. Citizens leaving their homes are required to carry their police ID or passport, as well as a signed attestation in which the purpose or category of travel is stated. The Hellenic Police, the Municipal Police, the Hellenic Coast Guard and the National Transparency Authority are empowered to enforce the restrictions and can issue fines for each offence. On 4 April, these restrictions were extended until 27 April, and on 23 April, they were again extended until 4 May.
The measures put in place in Greece are among the most proactive and strictest in Europe and have been credited internationally for having slowed the spread of the disease and having kept the number of deaths among the lowest in Europe.
Starting from 4 May 2020, after a 42-day lockdown, Greece began to gradually lift restrictions on movement and to restart business activity.
Greece put in place new measures and restrictions on movement and business activity from 7 November 2020. Kindergartens, primary schools and special schools initially remained open, unlike the first lockdown in March, while middle and high schools switched to distance learning. On 14 November 2020, primary schools and kindergartens closed, initially for two weeks, and from 18 November 2020, they switched to distance learning. On 20 November 2020, Greece overtook China in terms of the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. The country reached 100,000 cases on 27 November.
On 14 December 2020, shops (utilizing the click away method) as well as hairdressers and other facilities were allowed to open, while schools and restaurants remained closed. Two weeks later, on 28 December, Greece overtook China in terms of the number of deaths from COVID-19. At the end of 2020, there were nearly 140,000 cases and about 4,800 deaths in the country. On 2 January 2021, starting from the next day, all the measures lifted or relaxed on 14 December were reinstated until 18 January, citing the opening of schools as reason for these measures. However, the government's planned reopening of all schools on 8 or 11 January was criticised by many epidemiologists in the country and, in the end, only primary schools reopened on 11 January, with secondary schools reopening on 1 February.
In late January 2021, case numbers increased. On 12 February 2021, Attica was again placed in lockdown with the closure of lower schools (high schools had already been closed since early November) and retail outlets, but virus cases continued their rapid growth reaching 3,215 on 9 March. Local lockdowns were imposed in more and more local districts. On 4 March, new measures were taken, including placing all of Greece in the highest level of measures. On 5 March, Greece reached 200,000 cases. Approximately half of the prefectures were in the deep red level (full closure of all schools and retail outlets), and on 12 March, all schools were closed for two weeks. The COVID-19 death toll in the country exceeded 10,000 on 25 April. On 3 May, the lockdown ended and measures eased, and on 14 May, Greece, including islands, opened for tourists from several countries. The country reached 300,000 cases on 13 April, 400,000 on 30 May, 500,000 on 3 August, 600,000 on 6 September, 700,000 on 19 October, 800,000 on 9 November, 900,000 on 24 November and a million on 12 December. By the end of 2021, there had been about 1.2 million cases and nearly 21,000 deaths in Greece.
On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.
The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003, but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll. On 28 July it was reported that the reproduction number R for Greece was stable at 0.4, but reportedly R rose to 1.0 in early August.
|Data for February to July 2020|
|In Intensive Care
(total on that date)
tests performed ^
|26 February 2020||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|1 July 2020||23||0||3,432||192||9||315,982|
|Data for August to November 2020|
|In Intensive Care
(total on that date)
tests performed ^
|Data for December 2020 to January 2021|
|In Intensive Care
(total on that date)
tests performed ^
|In Intensive Care
(total on that date)
tests performed ^
|Eastern Macedonia and Thrace||812||32|
|No Location Provided||1016||33|
Note: Figures to mid-September 2020 - Source:COVID—19
|Classification||Cases||Fatal cases||Cases treated in ICU|
|Data as of 28.10.2020 15:00 EET.|
Source: National Public Health Organization, figures to October 2020
Greece's tourism industry has been negatively impacted by the crisis, and a 9.7% economic contraction has been predicted for the fiscal year 2020, but demand from home purchases from residents of other European countries has increased as many properties have become available as a result of Greece's economic difficulties. Up to 65% of Greek hotels, including many investment grade properties and commercial developments on Crete, Corfu and Rhodes, are expected to face bankruptcy under current conditions. It's estimated that German property investments in Greece have increased by 50%, especially in the Peloponnese and islands like Crete, Corfu, Karpathos and Amorgos. Greece's successful handling of the pandemic with fewer than 200 deaths and only 3,826 total reported cases has been one of the factors driving the demand for property purchases from other European nations.
Starting on 16 March, the Hellenic Ministry of Health introduced a daily afternoon live televised briefing with updates on the progression of the pandemic in the country and the government's emergency measures, hosted by Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras, the health ministry spokesman on the COVID-19 pandemic, and Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias, with occasional appearances of other government officials as well. From the beginning of May, the live televised briefings were held three times a week, while a daily COVID-19 report by NPHO on the progression of the disease in the country was published online. On 27 May, after 72 days, the televised briefings ended, while the daily NPHO reports on the daily number of new cases and deaths continued. From mid-July, weekly televised briefings by Hardalias, focusing solely on operational issues, were re-introduced.
On 9 March, all school trips were banned, all sports games were to be played with no fans attending and all school championships were cancelled, and starting on 10 March, all educational institutions were closed for 14 days.
On 16 March two villages in Western Macedonia, Damaskinia and Dragasia, were quarantined after several cases among their residents were confirmed. Movement in and out of the villages was banned, allowing only medical staff and municipal staff to supply medication and food. On 18 March, Greece announced new coronavirus restrictions pertaining to migrant camps. For thirty days, the movement of camp residents would be restricted to small groups between 7 am and 7 pm, which could only include one person per family and would be controlled by police on public transport. Specialised medical teams were sent to the camps for the creation of virus isolation areas and compulsory temperature checking. All other visits to the camps whether by individuals or organisations were suspended for at least 14 days. On the same day, Deputy Minister of Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias announced a ban on public gatherings of 10 or more people and the imposition of a €1,000 fine on violators.
On 20 March, Minister of Shipping and Island Policy Giannis Plakiotakis announced that only permanent residents and supply trucks would be allowed to travel to the Greek islands, with effect from 6 am local time on 21 March. Travellers need to provide proof of permanent residence (via a tax certificate) on the island to which they wish to travel. People who are already on the islands and wish to leave are allowed to return to the mainland.
On 22 March, the Greek government announced a ban on all nonessential transport and movement across the country, starting from 6 a.m. on 23 March until 6 April. Movement was permitted only for a prescribed set of reasons that include moving to or from the workplace during normal business hours, shopping for food or medicine, visiting a doctor or assisting a person in need of help, exercising individually or in pairs or walking a pet, attending a ceremony (wedding, baptism, funeral etc.), and cases of divorced parents moving to ensure communication with their children. People returning to their permanent places of residence were exempt. Citizens leaving their home were required to carry their ID or passport with them, as well as some type of certification explaining the reason for their movement which has to be confirmed by their employer or by themselves. The options included filling in a special form that could be downloaded from the government website forma.gov.gr, sending a free SMS to the number 13033, or explaining their reason in a signed handwritten declaration. The information needed included the name, home address, time of departure from home, and the specific reason for transport that falls under one of the exceptions. Members of the government and parliament as well as all Health, Civil Protection, Law Enforcement and Armed Forces personnel were excluded from the measure. The Hellenic Police, the Municipal Police, the Hellenic Coast Guard and the National Transparency Authority were required to enforce the restrictions and issue fines of 150 euros for each offense. On the same day, it was also announced that daytime public transport services would be limited, although ensuring sufficient service during business hours. Journeys by car were only permitted for specific reasons, and the driver may only have one passenger in the vehicle. Since the beginning of the curfew through 6 April, Greek police have recorded more than 20,000 violations (increasing in recent days) and made 348 arrests of offenders. On 4 April the measure was extended until 27 April.
On 31 March, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias announced additional restrictive measures for a duration of 14 days in the municipalities of Kastoria, Orestida and Nestorio of Kastoria Regional Unit as well as those of Xanthi and Myki of Xanthi Regional Unit. A night curfew was imposed from 8:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. the following morning and some options of the lockdown movement restrictions were suspended. Only close relatives can attend a funeral and pet owners are allowed to walk their pet for up to 15 minutes and near their house only.
On 2 April, following the confirmation of a case in Mykonos, all construction activities on the island were suspended. On 5 April, another case was confirmed and a night curfew was imposed from 8:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. the following morning while some options of the lockdown movement restrictions were suspended for 14 days. The same day all construction activity was suspended for 30 days on the island of Santorini, although no cases have been reported there.
From 8 April, the Hellenic Police installed permanent roadblocks and intensified checks of vehicles in all national roads and highways across the country, as well of travellers at the airports, ports, railway and bus stations. Anyone travelling by car without a valid reason to a destination other than his permanent residence was charged with a fine of 300 euros, is obliged to return to his place of origin and the vehicle registration plates are seized for 60 days.
From 17 to 24 August, a cap of 50 attendees applied to most public events. From 21 August to 12 September, a lower cap of 9 persons applied in Halkidiki and Mykonos, in private as well as public spaces. The same restrictions were also imposed in Chania, but from 25 August to 12 September. From 29 August to 12 September the same restrictions applied also to Zakynthos, Lesvos and Imathia.
From 12 October, four risk categories (low / moderate / high / very high risk) were introduced and applied to each regional unit. In the first three risk categories, gatherings of no more than 100 (low risk), 50 (medium risk) or 9 persons (high risk) are allowed, while in regions categorized as 'very high risk' no outdoor gatherings are allowed. When the new system was introduced, 27 regional units were low risk, 25 were medium risk, 22 were high risk and no region was very high risk. On 15 and 16 October respectively, the Kozani and Kastoria regional units were moved from the high to the very high risk category, followed by the Ioannina and Serres regional units on 29 October.
From 7 November, the government instituted a traffic ban during night hours. Initially it allowed exceptions which included movement for the purchase of food or medicine. From 13 November, the ban on movement became stricter with an almost complete curfew from 9 pm to 5 am with more limited exceptions.
On 9 March, the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority announced the temporary suspension of all flights to and from northern Italy, affecting all Greek airports and all airlines. On 14 March the suspension was extended to all passenger flights to and from Italy, excluding cargo and sanitary ones.
On 16 March Greece closed its borders with Albania and North Macedonia, deciding to suspend all road, sea and air links with these countries, while only permitting the transport of goods and the entry of Greek nationals and residents. The suspension of ferry services to and from Italy, air links to Spain, as well as the prohibition of all cruise ships and sailboats docking in Greek ports was also decided. The same day it was announced that a 14-day home restriction will be mandatory for those who enter the country.
On 18 March, Greece and the other EU member states decided to close their external borders to all non-EU nationals. In Greece, the entry of citizens of countries from outside the European Union was only permitted for a condition that relates exclusively to an emergency or family matter. All private pleasure boats from abroad were also banned from entering the country. On 19 March, Turkey closed the land border crossings with Greece at Karaağaç and Ipsala.
From 23 March, Greece suspended all passenger flights to and from the UK as well as all air, sea, rail and road connections with Turkey, with an exception for Greek citizens and those who have residence permits or whose main residence is in Greece, as well as trucks and ships transporting goods.
On 28 March, Greece suspended all commercial flights to and from Germany and the Netherlands until 15 April, with a few exemptions. From Germany, only flights to Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport were permitted.
On 15 April, the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority issued NOTAMs covering until 15 May, that ban commercial flights to and from Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. Exemptions included cargo, sanitary, humanitarian, state, military, ferry and Frontex flights, as well as flights in support of the Hellenic National Healthcare System, those for repatriation of Greek citizens and emergency flights.
On 15 May, the Hellenic CAA issued five more NOTAMs extending the suspension of all commercial flights to and from Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands until 1 June, and all flights to and from Albania and North Macedonia and flights from Turkey until 15 June, with the exemptions mentioned above. Moreover, the temporary entry ban to all non-EU citizens was extended until 1 June and all international flights are allowed to land and depart only at Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport until that date.
Restrictions on entry for international travellers were lifted in mid-June and entry restrictions on British tourists were set to expire on 15 July. Passengers arriving from countries with high infection rates were required to take a test and agree to a two-week quarantine. Passengers from lower risk countries would be tested at random, but did not face a mandatory quarantine period.
From 17 August, airline passengers arriving in Greece from Belgium, Czechia, Spain, the Netherlands or Sweden need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result from the past 72 hours. The same applies to anyone entering Greece by land. This requirement was lifted on 29 August concerning the Netherlands. From 11 November to 7 January this requirement applied to all international arrivals.
From 9 November to 28 January, domestic air travel was restricted to essential journeys only (for health purposes, business purposes, family reunification or returning to permanent residence).
On 18 March, in a joint news conference, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis, and Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis announced a package of measures to support the economy, businesses and employees. The measures include the suspension, for four months, of tax and social security obligations of corporations that were ordered to close by the state decree, with the sole condition that they do not dismiss any workers. This measure covers about 220,000 businesses and 600,000 employees. The measures also include an €800 stipend as well as a four-month suspension of payment of March taxes on employees of businesses the activity of which was suspended and on freelance professionals who work in sectors affected by the pandemic. The reduction of VAT tax from 24% to 6% on pharmaceutical products such as gloves, masks and antiseptics was also announced. Moreover, the Finance Minister announced the inclusion of Greece in an emergency assets purchases' program worth €750 billion launched by the European Central Bank, and also stated the 3.5% primary surplus target for Greece is no longer in effect, according to a Eurogroup decision.
On 19 March, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in a nationally televised address, announced the revision of the State Budget to allocate more than €10 billion in support of the economy. The suspension of tax and social security obligations of corporations and the number of beneficiaries of the €800 stipend was extended to include all businesses harmed by the pandemic, all freelancers and self-employed workers and the majority of private sector workers. The state will also cover the cost of beneficiaries' insurance, pension, and health payments. The PM also stated that the Easter bonus would be paid in full to all employees and announced a special bonus for health and civil protection workers.
According to the International Monetary Fund, as of June 2020 the package of measures in support of the economy, financed from national and EU resources, totals about 14% of Greece's GDP (€24 billion) including loan guarantees. Greece has said it will not accept European Union conditions on how coronavirus emergency aid is used. Mitsotakis said "Greeks have matured a lot. And we want to do our own reforms."
On 12 March, a two-week closure of all theatres, courthouses, cinemas, gyms, playgrounds and clubs was announced.
On 13 March, the nationwide closure of all shopping centres, cafes, restaurants, bars, museums and archaeological sites and food outlets, excluding supermarkets, pharmacies and food outlets that offer take-away and delivery only, was announced. On 14 March, all organised beaches and ski resorts were closed.
On 19 March, the government announced the closure of all hotels across the country, from midnight on 22 March and until the end of April. Only hotels that accommodate personnel that guard the border will continue to operate, as well as three hotels in Athens and Thessaloniki and one hotel per regional unit will remain open. Moreover, all Greek citizens returning from abroad will be subjected to mandatory surveillance and isolation for at least 14 days. On 22 March, all parks, recreation areas and marinas were also closed.
From 17 to 24 August all bars, restaurants, clubs and entertainment venues in Attica, Crete, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Larissa, Corfu, Mykonos, Paros and Antiparos, Poros, Santorini, Volos, Katerini, Rhodes, Zakynthos and Kos were subject to nighttime curfew from midnight to 07hrs.
As part of the four risk categories introduced from 12 October, different rules on opening hours, maximum capacity and seating were applied to bars, restaurants and cafés in each regional unit depending on its risk category.
A second nationwide lockdown began on 7 November, lasting until December, along similar lines to that in March: only supermarkets, pharmacies and food takeaway business were allowed to remain open. During the second lockdown supermarkets were not allowed to sell non-essential items such as clothing, shoes, books, electronic equipment and electrical appliances.
Starting on 28 February, with four confirmed cases in the country, the precautionary local closure of schools was decided when there was concern that members of these school communities may have come into contact with a coronavirus carrier. On the same day, all educational trips abroad programmed by Greek schools were suspended and various municipalities around the country began disinfecting schools locally. On 4 March, the closure of all public and private educational institutions of all levels in Ilia, Achaea and Zakynthos was decided and from 8 March all educational trips within the country were suspended.
On 10 March, the operation of all schools, universities, daycare centres and all other educational establishments were suspended nationwide for fourteen days. A special purpose leave of 15 days was introduced for working parents. Ten days later, on 20 March, this was extended such that all educational institutions would remain closed until 10 April. On 10 April, the Minister of Education Niki Kerameos announced that all educational institutions would remain closed until 10 May.
Schools reopened on 14 September, subject to fulfilling a list of 16 conditions notably concerning hygiene measures, break times, school trips and activities. However, opposition parties and students' groups have criticised the government for the insufficiency of the measures, while many school strikes were initiated across the country.
During the second national lockdown since 7 November, only special education schools remain open. Secondary and tertiary education institutions were closed from 7 November; students were offered distance learning. Kindergartens and primary schools were initially intended to remain open during the lockdown but joined other schools in closing down from 16 November, while schools remained closed at least until 7 January.
A person who has tested positive and who fails to isolate can be sentenced to prison for up to five years, this rises if someone else has been infected because of the breach to ten years and in the event that the breach leads to the death of a third party, up to fifteen years in prison.
On 27 February, prime minister Mitsotakis announced that illegal entry from Turkey would no longer be tolerated as this would be a threat to public health in Greece. According to various estimates about 150,600 displaced persons are located in Greece. In the existing camps, doctors, NGOs and refugees considered that measures against the spread of the coronavirus are lacking as people live in overcrowded spaces with little access to proper health services. On 24 March, 21 international human rights organizations active in Greece including Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch and ActionAid published an open call to the Greek government to take immediate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Reception and Identification Centres, where refugees live. The conditions of the centres were criticised as deplorable and dangerous to both the refugees and public health. Médecins Sans Frontières, which has a clinic near the Moria camp, declared that the numbers in the camps had reached levels such that they could not handle an outbreak of infection within the camp. The government further announced that movement of refugees outside the camps would be restricted as facilities are prepared for confirmed cases, and that it would only allow small groups of refugees and migrants to temporarily exit the camps to obtain basic supplies.
On 31 March, it was reported that two individuals were infected in the Ritsona refugee camp in Central Greece. On 14 August, two camps in Evros and Drama were put into quarantine until the end of August.
In September 2020 it was announced that half of the COVID-19 admissions for one day in two hospitals in Athens had been immigrants.
"Faced with increased isolation and health risk in camps, many refugees organised protests to improve living conditions in state-run camps at the beginning of the pandemic. Many fled the camps illegally. But many who stayed trapped inside the camps during the lockdown initiated a range of novel practices of self- and community care".
According to an Al Jazeera report on 30 April 2020, animal rescue groups and shelters throughout Greece have been overwhelmed with thousands of stray dogs due to the disruption of international dog adoption caused by international travel restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hellenic Ministry of Health has formed a 3-member committee responsible for the review and employment of all the donations in support of the National Healthcare System during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 7 May, Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias announced that donations worth about €90 million came from organisations, companies and individuals, as well as other states such as the United Arab Emirates and China. Forty million euros were for medical equipment (ICU monitors, ventilators, ICU beds), another 24.2 million euros were for personal protective equipment (face masks, surgical aprons, protective uniforms, medical οvershoes) and there were another €12.5 million in cash deposits.
On 28 April, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and six Deputy Ministers, as well as four Ministers in the following days, announced the government's plan for the gradual lifting of the restrictive measures and the restart of business activity. The plan consisted of specific milestone dates and extended throughout May and June 2020. It had been evaluated continuously against the COVID-19 infection rate over the following weeks and revised based on the progression of the pandemic in the country.
Starting on 4 May, those moving outside their home no longer needed to send a text message or carry a declaration stating their reason, but only within the regional unit where they lived. In its 42 days of operation, from 23 March to 4 May, a total of about 110 million text messages to the number 13033 were handled, an average of 1,818 messages per minute. Travel to other regional units or between islands within the same regional unit remained prohibited until 18 May.
Some stores opened on 4 May, however some were by appointment only and strict rules regarding the maximum number of people inside applied. The stores opening were hairdressers, bookstores, electrical appliance stores, optical and sports equipment stores, as well as vehicle inspection centres (KTEO). This restart affected a total of 26,167 businesses, about 10% of those whose operation was suspended, and 68,528 employees, also about 10% of the total.
The use of face masks is mandatory for employees and customers in some closed places, such as supermarkets, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and elevators, as well as in public transport. The government recommended the use of private vehicles rather than public transport to reduce congestion. Public transport increased schedules to accommodate passengers without crowding during peak hours.
Public sector employees attend their jobs in three stages, at 07:00, 08:00 and 09:00 in the morning in order to avoid congestion on public transport, and the special-purpose leave for parents with school-age children was extended until the end of May.
On 11 May, all remaining retail shops as well as driving schools that were shut down by governmental decree, except shopping malls, cafes and restaurants, re-opened with specific hygiene rules. This restart affected a total of 66,010 businesses, about 25% of those whose operation was suspended, and 155,962 employees, 22.5% of the total.
Classes for High school senior grade students resumed from 11 May, but classes were divided into two groups with a maximum of 15 pupils in each group. Groups attended classes on alternating days. Worshippers were able to attend Divine Liturgies and other religious services following specific hygiene rules, from 17 May.
From 18 May, all other grades of secondary education resumed classes and private tuition and foreign language centres re-opened. On that date, all movement restrictions across the country were also lifted with the restart of free travel between regions on the mainland and the islands of Crete and Euboea. Travel by bus, train or plane includes a series of hygiene measures such as pre-boarding screening measures, limits to the maximum number of people allowed to board, mandatory use of face masks, keeping a safety distance and regular cleaning and disinfection. On 18 May all archaeological sites, zoos, botanical gardens as well as all aesthetic and dietary institutes, discount and outlet villages and shopping malls re-opened, earlier than the previously established 1 June date. Mall customers and employees are required to keep safe distances and wear masks.
On 25 May, a week earlier than the initial planning, all cafes and restaurants re-opened for business, but only with outdoor seating, certain distances between chairs and tables and a maximum of six seated customers per table. The use of face masks and gloves by staff members is compulsory.
On 1 June, year-round hotels, open-air cinemas, golf courses and public swimming pools began operation. Nursery schools, kindergartens and primary schools also opened on 1 June, although their operation had not been initially decided. On 5 June, the Super League Greece resumed play, but without fans in the stadiums. Indoor restaurants and cafes as well as other indoor facilities gradually opened on 6 June.
On 9 March 2020, the Standing Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, the country's established Eastern Orthodox Church, discussed the coronavirus epidemic and issued an encyclical that was sent to the dioceses of the Church of Greece. Having stated that the Holy Communion could by no means be a way of transmission of diseases, the Standing Synod decided to continue offering and receiving the Holy Communion. The Synod's decision sparked controversy. The Synod's stance prompted criticism from the opposition Syriza party, with former prime minister Alexis Tsipras criticising the hierarchy, as did former health minister Pavlos Polakis. Some high-profile Greek medical doctors publicly supported the continuation of practicing Holy Communion, drawing criticism from the Greek Association of Hospital Doctors.
On 11 March, the prime minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in a nationally televised address, told the public to follow the instructions of doctors and experts, and the Church of Greece to cooperate in enforcing the public health regulations. Two days later, the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Ieronymos stated that the Church agreed with and would implement the public health precautionary measures taken by the national authorities.
On 16 March, after having been briefed by infectious disease spokesman Sotiris Tsiodras, the Church's Standing Synod decided to suspend all public services except Divine Liturgies on Sundays, which were to be held as usual between 7 and 8 o'clock in the morning; weddings and baptisms were suspended, funerals were to be held with only the immediate family present; churches were to remain open for private prayer. Following the Synod's decision, the Greek prime minister announced the government's decision to suspend services in all areas of religious worship of any religion or dogma from 16 to 30 March, effectively suspending Sunday Divine Liturgies for that period too.
On 1 April, the Standing Synod of the Church of Greece issued a statement that urged the faithful to abide by the government's sanitary regulations and to refrain from attending services in churches; it also re-affirmed its stance on the Holy Communion set out in the statement of 9 March 2020 and expressed hope that solemn public celebration of Easter (Pascha), which would properly be on 19 April, could be performed on the night of 26 May, the eve of the Leave-Taking (Apodosis) of Pascha.
On 18 April, some churches in Athens were opened by the priests to offer services to worshippers. Elsewhere in Athens, some Orthodox believers protested against the closing of the churches and hammered on the church doors. 18 of them were arrested by the police. In the island of Corfu, the local Orthodox bishop, who had opposed government measures to halt the spread of coronavirus, invited the local mayor and citizens to take part in a closed-door service.
As part of the four risk categories introduced from 12 October, different rules on seating and distancing between worshippers were applied to places of worship in each regional unit depending on its risk category. As of November 2020, the Orthodox church practice of believers receiving wine from the same spoon during Holy Communion, has not changed.
On 14 November, the Greek Chief of Police, announced a ban on gatherings of more than three people throughout the country, from 15 November until 18 November. In Greece, 17 November ordinarily commemorates the Polytechnic uprising of November 1973. On 15 November 2020 the Association of Judges and Prosecutors of Greece said that such a general ban on gatherings was unconstitutional as it conflicts with article 11 of the Greek Constitution and asked that it be revoked. Their statement did not oppose more specific bans and continued "The State must protect public health in the face of a pandemic, without exceeding the limits of the rule of law". Left-wing opposition parties SYRIZA, Communist Party of Greece and MERA25 condemned the police order as unconstitutional, authoritarian and undemocratic and demanded its withdrawal. The Communist Party of Greece invited MPs and its members to participate in the march, contrary to the police ban, while MERA25 advised their members to stay home due to the pandemic and let the party's MP's represent them in the march. The Secretary of MERA25, Giannis Varoufakis, announced that he had a telephone conversation with the Minister of Civil Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis, who announced that any members of the Greek Parliament participating in the march on the anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising would be arrested.
According to complaints from the former Deputy Minister of Health and surgeon-intensivist, Pavlos Polakis and the president of the far-right Greek Solution party, Kyriakos Velopoulos, the Greek government delayed approving potentially important drugs against COVID-19 such as Colchicine and the use of Monoclonal antibodies. According to the complaints, although the effective use of Colchicine was discovered by Greek scientists, the Greek government approved the drug in January 2021 with a delay of 5 months, while until February 2021 it has not approved the use of Monoclonal Antibodies. According to complaints by opposition figures, the use of these drugs is very useful as Greek society has been exhausted by the health measures of the Mitsotakis government.
Since its election in July 2019, the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been criticised by the opposition for its privileged relations with the media, such as democratic backsliding. During the first phase of the epidemic, the government allocated a total of 20 million euros for a state advertising campaign on TV channels, newspapers and news websites to promote the quarantine that had been imposed. The spending was criticised by the opposition in the parliament that mentioned also the exclusion of media outlets which were not supportive of the government ("Petsas list"). On 30 November 2020, the Vice President of the European Commission Věra Jourová stated that same phenomena, regarding the funding of government-friendly media, are also observed in Hungary, Slovenia and Poland.
In addition, there were complaints that the Greek government tried to silence critical views from journalists regarding the strictness of the quarantine.A typical example is the non-broadcasting of a scheduled and videotaped journalistic TV show presented by Antonis Schroeter on the ALPHA TV station on 29 October 2020. The show was about the so-called conspiracy theories about COVID-19. The show hosted the views of Nikolaos Sypsas, a professor of infectious diseases, member of the committee of the Greek Ministry of Health and advocate of extreme and harsh restrictive measures, and from the other hand the professor of pediatrics Ioannis Kavaliotis and the musician Grigoris Petrakos who are against the harsh measures of the Greek Government. The Greek Government also has been accused[by whom?] of launching an attack against internet and social network users who publish dissenting views regarding government measures against COVID-19. Specifically, it is claimed that the Cybercrime Prosecution of the Greek Police has been ordered to monitor conversations and posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks in order to identify people who express disagreement with government measures. Those who are detected will face immediate arrest and a maximum imprisonment of three years if convicted. 44 cases had already been filed by 24 September 2020.
The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent a letter to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on 11 January 2021, asking her to apply a pan-European vaccination certificate for COVID-19 so that Europeans could travel. The World Health Organization expressed its opposition to such a possibility, as there was a shortage of vaccines worldwide and the effectiveness of vaccines had not yet been established. The first negative reaction from leaders of European Union countries to the Mitsotakis proposal came from the Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who characterized the Mitsotakis proposal as divisive, stating that a vaccination certificate can not be related to travel and that such a certificate would divide the citizens of Europe. France expressed reservations about Mitsotakis' proposal, with France's Minister for European Affairs stating that France was very cautious about the certificate and that the proposal was too early.