Hundreds of tourists waited hours to enter Greece on Thursday, with traffic stretching back for kilometers at the Bulgarian-Greek border as Covid-19 restrictions slowed travel for holidaymakers, Romanian media reported.
Greek authorities are only allowing motorists to cross on the Kulata-Promachonas checkpoint since July 1, Romania’s foreign ministry said which has led to a bottleneck at the border.
Traffic had reduced to 7 kilometers by Thursday afternoon, as tourists from Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria queued up at the border to start their vacation, Pro-Tv reported.
Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, with up to 30 million tourists every year. More than 1 million Romanians holidayed in Greece in 2018.
Even the father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was caught up in the travel mayhem. Stanley Johnson had to fly to the Bulgarian caital, Sofia, and then to Athens after Greece banned direct flights from the UK.
He told British paper Daily Mail that was in the country „on essential business” to ensure a property he rents out was „Covid-proof” before holidays restart. However, he was criticized for breaking the government’s advice on non-essential travel.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 80% of Romanians are opting out of foreign vacations this summer, but Greece still remains a favorite spot, with some Romanians planning to motor down to the country or one of the islands.
Romania’s foreign ministry announced Wednesday that only one border crossing was open from July 1-15, and all travelers will have to fill out a ‘passenger locator form’ on entry.
Bulgarian National Radio said Bulgarian border police were working at full capacity, but the process was slowed down by passenger checks into Greece and on-the-spot Covid-19 tests administered, mainly to tourists from Serbia.
The checkpoints closed on the North Macedonia border, Kulata-Promachonas was in effect the only crossing for holidaymakers from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and North Macedonia.
BNR reported that the Makaza-Komotini checkpoint, on the eastern side of the Bulgarian-Greek border, was still operating on Thursday morning, but it was not clear for how long.
Bulgarian border police were concerned that the situation could worsen at the weekend, when the traffic towards Greece was expected to increase further, BNR said.