COVID-19: Turkish Cypriots close checkpoints

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Turkish Cypriot authorities are closing two crossing points across the island’s divide at Strovilia and Limnitis until March 22 in measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in the north.

This leaves only three of the eight crossing points along the Green Line operational – Ayios Dhometios, Ledra Palace and Pergamos.

The Republic of Cyprus government also temporarily suspended the operation of four checkpoints at Ledra Street, Dherynia, Astromeritis and Lefka on 28 February, a move strongly criticised by the Turkish Cypriot side.

Reportedly, the decision was taken at an urgent meeting of the ruling coalition in the Turkish occupied north convened by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

The Turkish Cypriot coalition has also decided to ban flights and passengers coming from countries with a large outbreak of the disease such as China, Iraq, Iran and Italy and the USA.

Citizens from these countries who have a residence permit from Turkish Cypriot authorities will be allowed in but must go into quarantine for a period of 14 days.

The Turkish Cypriot authorities announced that schools will be closed until 22 March as a precautionary measure. All schools are to be deep cleaned.

On Wednesday, the Turkish Cypriot “foreign Minister” Kudret Ozersay, tweeted the authorities have suspended all charter flights until 1 April.

He called on Turkish Cypriots who are abroad and were planning to return to the north via a charter flight to contact the authorities for further instructions.

Museums and other archaeological sites in the north will also close for the protection of tourists and people working at the sites.

On Tuesday, the north announced its first case of the novel coronavirus, a 65-year-old woman on holiday from Germany had tested positive for COVID-19.

The tourist was part of a group of 30 tourists from Germany, who have all departed since news of the illness of their co-traveller was announced.

The group had arrived in the north of the island via the airport at Tymbou (Ercan).