Greece has agreed to allow thousands of Albanians queuing for four days at the border to enter the country today until 10 pm. Everyone will be required to show negative COVID-19 test results after this time.
The two governments have agreed for the Albanians returning home to Greece after holidays in Albania to pass the border without test results. The measure will be applicable only for today, Minister of Defense Olta Xhacka announced.
Greece had earlier announced that Albanians returning home to Greece could enter without tests until August 16. Starting from August 17, tomorrow, they would be required to show negative COVID-19 test results.
However, Greek authorities limited the number of people allowed to cross the border. Checkpoints in Kakavije and Kapshtice closed today, after the daily 1050 people limit (750 + 300) was reached early in the morning.
The queue in Kakavija had reportedly reached 25 kilometres on Saturday.
A 10-year-old boy was killed by a speeding ambulance while queuing.
Travelers called on the Albanian government to solve the issue with Greek authorities, in order to lift the 1050 people limit per day.
On the third day of queuing, the Albanian government urged them on Saturday not to return to Greece unless necessary. Tweeting from holidays, Prime Minister Edi Rama downplayed the issue, claiming that such queues can be seen in all Greek borders.
No similar queues lasting for days have been reported in any other Greek border checkpoint.
Many Albanians living in Greece had returned to renew their biometric passports expiring after 10 years of use. Albanian started issuing biometric passports on 24 May 2009.
It’s not clear whether all those waiting for days to cross the border will be able to do so before restrictions start applying tomorrow.
The Albanian government does not provide COVID-19 tests unless the patients shows serious symptoms. Albanians returning home to Greece will have to pay about €150 to a few private labs allowed to offer the service.
Greece is home to about 700 thousand Albanians who have immigrated in the last three decades.