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COVID19: No new cases, as Cyprus braces for tourist arrivals

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Medical and healthcare workers in the struggle to tackle coronavirus, at Nicosia General Hospital, Cyprus

Cyprus reported no new cases of coronavirus infections on Sunday, the 12th of COVID19-free days since the pandemic hit the island in March and shut down the economy, primarily hurting the tourism sector that is struggling to re-open.

The Health Ministry said on Sunday that of a total 1059 tests for SARS-CoV-2, no new cases were reported. This kept the total number of cases in Cyprus at 994 and 19 deaths.

Two new cases were reported on Saturday, both were people arriving at Larnaca airport from high-risk coronavirus countries.

One of the two cases was a Cypriot living in Egypt who was tested at the airport and the second a person from the Philippines who presented the result of a rapid test and not from a molecular test (PCR), which was not accepted by the airport authorities and was subjected to a new test.

On Friday, Cyprus health authorities managed to report zero new coronavirus cases, after a run of single-digit daily infections.

This seemingly favourable situation has prompted hoteliers to urge the government to hasten restarting the tourism industry, by relaxing stringent arrivals bans on travellers from high risk countries, primarily the U.K., which together with holidaymakers from Russia, account for nearly 50% of all arrivals in Cyprus.

While Cyprus hoteliers are pushing the authorities to set a specific date for the resumption of flights from Britain and Russia, another 40 hotels were expected to open over the weekend.

Less than 70 hotels, around 10%, had opened when restrictions were lifted on 9 June.

Still uncertain over what the near future holds, as Cyprus has yet to announce when will open its borders to its two largest markets, Russia and the UK, hoteliers are taking the risk and offering attractive packages to locals and tourists.

In earlier comments to the Financial Mirror, director general of the Cyprus Hotels Association, Philokypros Roussounides, said hoteliers and tour operators have not been given a fixed date, unlike Greece and Spain who have announced that they will open airports to the UK on 11 July.

“This could mean that holidaymakers looking for a holiday package are more likely to be sent to other countries which have announced a date for reopening rather than waiting for Cyprus.

Meanwhile, Louis Hotels CEO Iasonas Perdios said: “Although we find that bookings are currently at a very low level, hoteliers have nevertheless reopened some of their hotel units, and we plan to open other units within the next fortnight”.

Commenting on the situation in Paphos, the CEO of Thanos Hotels, Thanos Michaelides, said another 19 hotels will be opening in Paphos adding to the three that opened at the beginning of June.

Thanos hotels have already opened the doors of its Almyra and Anassa establishments.

The chairman of the CHA Famagusta branch, Doros Takas said that some hotels were expected to open during the weekend, but they will be keeping an eye on numbers of incoming tourists.

He said that if the British and Russian markets, on which the majority of Famagusta hoteliers depend, do not open, the year will be drastic for the industry.

Around ten hotels in Ayia Napa have already reopened, and three more are expected to reopen on 1 July.