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COVID19: Cyprus allows tourists from France, Lebanon

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Cyprus on Friday widened the number of countries allowed entry after easing coronavirus lockdown travel restrictions to include virus-stricken Italy, France, Spain and neighbours Lebanon.

After reassessing coronavirus data, Cyprus has readjusted its approval list to allow 32 countries entry from an initial list of 21 when a commercial flight ban was lifted on June 9.

According to a Health Ministry statement on Friday, 22 countries are now considered low risk including Greece, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, South Korea and Australia.

From Saturday, tourists from these countries will not need to provide a health certificate proving they have tested negative for coronavirus.

There are a dozen countries in the higher risk category B group – including France, Lebanon, Italy, Israel, Belgium and Spain – from which visitors will need to provide a health certificate showing they are COVID-19-free.

Only Israel, Poland and Romania were previously listed in the B group.

The changes were based on assessing updated epidemiological data which also saw Israel relegated from the low-risk countries after a spike in cases there.

Cyprus’ two largest markets for tourists – the UK and Russia – have yet to be included on the entry list.

The Health Ministry said that those arriving must undergo a COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before departure.

It said for countries that do not provide coronavirus tests on request, Cypriot authorities will carry out tests on arrivals at the airport at a cost of €60.

Cyprus has reported 985 total coronavirus cases and 19 deaths and has looked to jump-start its battered tourism.

It expects only around 30% of its normal four million tourists to arrive this year due to the pandemic.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said as of Saturday until the beginning of July, some 20 flights are expected to arrive in Cyprus daily with flight numbers going up to 500 per week.

“We currently have 1,000 passengers a day, and I estimate that we will reach 3,000 a day by 15 July and from then on we expect to reach 6,000-10,000 a day,” said Karousos.

He added that about 300 sample tests per day will be carried out at the airports, covering about 30% of passengers arriving in Cyprus.