COVID19: Cyprus airports to allow limited entry from June

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Government COVID-19 advisor, molecular virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis, expects Cyprus airports to open “sometime in June” to tourists from no more than 20 selected countries.

In comments to CNA, the virologist confirmed that Tourism Deputy Minister Savvas Perdios has handed President Nicos Anastasiades a list of 20 countries, with similar epidemiological data, from which Cyprus could receive tourists.

“The Epidemiological Surveillance Unit undertook the task of assessing the epidemiological picture of these countries,” said Karayiannis.

If some countries have similar epidemiological data to us or even better, we will accept tourists without asking them to carry a certificate that they have undergone the coronavirus test or being quarantined.

Respectively, the same will apply to Cypriots who visit these countries and the same data will apply,” he added.

Karayiannis also referred to rumoured bilateral agreements between Cyprus, Greece and Israel in the first phase of opening up to tourists.

He said this could be extended to include other countries such as Malta, Austria and the Baltic countries which have recorded similar epidemiological progress.

Regarding countries in southern Europea that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, Karayiannis estimated that they may present a much better epidemiological picture within July and therefore it may be possible for a tourist flow to and from Cyprus.

“As we speak in Italy and Spain, the rate of new cases and deaths is dropping. So very soon they will be at the same level as Germany was when it started exiting its lockdown.”

To prevented COVID-19 cases coming into Cyprus, the virologist said thermal cameras will be installed at all airports, which will check passengers before boarding.

“Therefore, anyone sporting a fever will not be able to board the flight, and the same will apply to passengers travelling from Cyprus,” said Karayiannis.

He said if a passenger is found with a fever, they will be referred to a health centre for testing and will not be allowed to travel until they get their results.

Regarding hotels, Karayiannis said that if guests keep their distance during breakfast or lunch, then there is no particular risk, while people are outdoors there is no risk of transmission at all.

If there is a suspected case, then the person will be transferred to another hotel that will operate as a quarantine facility.

He said the reason why the dates for opening the airports is fluid is to give the Health Ministry time to prepare protocols for airports and to give hoteliers time to prepare for the new normal.