Cyprus airports will go into virtual lockdown for 14 days with a blanket ban on passenger flights from March 21, the government clarified on Wednesday following a decree that suggested only 28 countries were affected, including Britain and Greece, to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
“The 21/3 flight ban to our airports will apply to all countries. The decree to be issued will not list countries but declare a total ban with the exceptions announced (eg cargo),” Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos tweeted Wednesday.
The island has already enacted stringent entry requirements, effective from March 16, barring anyone into the island, including Cypriots, without a medical certificate that they are clear of coronavirus.
Those who do arrive, even with a certificate, are placed in compulsory quarantine in a government-supervised facility for two weeks.
The ban on flights to Larnaca and Paphos airports does not affect cargo.
According to Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, there will be exceptions to the obligation to present a medical certificate for Cypriots who will enter the Republic of Cyprus until March 21.
Concerning the March 15 decree, that requires a medical certificate for people who want to enter the Republic of Cyprus, the Minister said that the measure will stay in force until 3 am on March 21.
Exceptions apply for those who travelled abroad for medical reasons or for a short stay, for business or professional purposes, and for those who are entitled to enter on the basis of the Vienna Convention.
He added that instead of presenting a medical certificate, people who fall within the categories announced will have to provide a certificate from one of the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Cyprus.
To get the certificate, they will have to present relevant evidence, such as outbound tickets or certificates from a medical treatment centre.
Ioannou also said that flights without passengers to the Republic of Cyprus will be allowed in order to transport people who wish to depart from Cyprus.
Cyprus will charter flights from Athens and London if necessary to bring back passengers falling within the exceptions announced.
All passengers entering the Republic of Cyprus will be placed in quarantine for 14 days from the day of their arrival, in areas designated by the state. This does not apply for persons who went abroad for medical reasons, who will instead confine themselves at home to continue their treatment.
The Transport Ministry stressed that students who may want to return to Cyprus must have a health certificate to be allowed in and there are no plans to charter then home.
“However, the ministry and the government are on the alert, and according to data coming in we will reevaluate the situation”, the Financial Mirror was told.
On Wednesday, 17 flights from the above mentioned countries are to arrive at the island’s airports, with authorities ready to ban people from entering without proper documentation.
The Republic has reported 49 cases of coronavirus and the Turkish Cypriot authorities confirmed 20.