COVID19: Greeks, Germans could be first wave of Cyprus tourists

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Cyprus said European Commission guidelines on lockdown relaxations for reopening borders between member states could see the island’s first tourists coming from Germany and Greece but not the UK.

Deputy Minister Savvas Perdios said Cyprus had been waiting for EU guidelines while urging the Health Ministry to issue protocols for hotels and airports.

Perdios told state radio CyBC, the European Commission proposes to open the internal borders of the EU in a “coordinated” way, as “harmoniously” as possible and without discrimination.

In the plan with the guidelines published, Brussels proposes equal treatment of countries that are in a comparable epidemiological situation and have adopted appropriate preventive measures.

“What this means is that a country should not only open its borders to neighbouring countries with similar epidemiological data, but to all countries within the union with the same data,” said Perdios.

He said the Commission recommends that the Member States make decisions based on the health assessment of the situation in each country and by communicating with each other.

For Cyprus, this would mean it can, initially, open its borders to people coming from Greece, Austria, Germany, Malta and maybe some Scandinavian countries.

The European Commission intends to set up a website with real-time information on the situation at the border, but also at each tourist destination.

Regarding arrivals of tourists from countries outside the European Union, the Commission calls on the 27 member states to extend the temporary ban on unnecessary travel to the EU until 15 June.

Perdios said the island’s largest tourist market the UK and second largest Russia will not be included in the first batch of countries from which Cyprus will receive tourists.

He said hotels will have to rush to make deals with tour operators working with countries that will be on the approved list.

“We are not happy that it will be a while before we see tourists from the UK and Russia, but we have to make the most of the situation.”

Perdios argued that hoteliers should take this into account when deciding when they are to reopen.

He suggested that hotels should open a couple of weeks after the airports re-open in mid-June.