It is with regret I have to announce that, due to uncertainties caused by COVID-19, the decision has been taken to reschedule the annual SCS Battlefield Tour, as advertised, to September 2021. The main reason for reaching this decision is the issue of the Greece – North Macedonia border. This border is currently closed, as are Greece’s borders with Albania and Turkey, due to those countries having higher rates of COVID-19. At present there are no dates projected for reopening the border and the potential exists for the border, if opened, to be closed again at short notice. Therefore, it is all but impossible to organise the cross-border leg of the tour with any certainty of it being possible to cross into North Macedonia or to guarantee the group would be able to return to Greece for homeward flights. In addition, with our usual ground handler and transport being based in North Macedonia the border situation causes major logistical problems. There are also different COVID-19 related administrative regulations in place in the two countries, which helps make a two-country tour overly complicated.
Therefore, the SCS is investigating the possibility of running a Greece only tour this coming September. However, given the close proximity to the Greece – North Macedonian border, visits to Kajmakcalan and Korona (Krastali) will not be included. The proposed tour would instead focus on the Birdcage Line, Struma Valley and parts of the Vardar sector of the front. Whilst a Greece only tour is viable, there are lots of COVID-19 related hoops to jump through from arrival in Greece onwards. These range from the need for each traveller to have a valid Passenger Locator Form to enter the country, through the possibility of members of the tour group being selected for a COVID-19 test and needing to quarantine for 14 days if found positive, to possible limitations on the number of people able to congregate in a group in a public space. These issues are being looked into at present by local SCS contacts and we hope to be in a position to make a final decision on the viability of this year’s tour by Sunday 2 August.
Chairman, Salonika Campaign Society