COVID19: Cyprus decides Greek holidays pose higher risk

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Form 6 August passenger arrivals from Greece will have to present a coronavirus negative test no older than 72 hours after Cyprus demoted the country to a higher risk category.

A resurgence in COVID-19 cases in Greece combined with some passengers arriving from Greece testing positive for the virus after random tests at airports.

The Cyprus Health Ministry said that from Sunday until Thursday authorities will increase random tests on passengers arriving from Greece.

It also said any travellers from Greece would be required to show a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of travel to Cyprus.

Cypriots and residents have the option to be tested at the airport upon their arrival but will bear the cost of €60.

Those who departed for Greece before August 2 and coming back after August 6 will be given a free test upon their return.

The decision demoting Greece was taken following a rise in numbers of cases in Greece but also after people who arrived recently from there tested positive for coronavirus.

Since 31 July, 6 passengers from Greece were found positive at Cyprus airports after being randomly tested at the Larnaca and Paphos airports.

The decision comes at the height of the holiday season, affecting Greek tourists wanting to come to Cyprus and Cypriots planning a summer getaway on a Greek island.

Greece is the number one destination for Cypriots during the summer.

A source from the tourism sector told the Financial Mirror, that Greece’s demotion to category B is yet another blow for the industry.

“It does not change things much as the year is already lost after essentially losing the UK and Israel markets, while Germany is advising their citizens to stay put this summer”.

Earlier in July, Israel was demoted to Category C, essentially meaning that tourists from Cyprus third-largest market are unable to come.

The UK, Cyprus’ largest market for tourists is currently in category B, which means Britons need a negative coronavirus test, making it a turnoff for tour operators.

Cyprus Airways

Cyprus Airways has announced the suspension of flights to Thessaloniki and the Greek island of Skiathos from 18 August while reducing the frequency of flights to Athens and Heraklion.

“All affected passengers will be informed about their cancelled flights via email,” said the airline in a statement on Monday.

Cyprus Airways said it is monitoring the situation closely and following the instructions of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Cyprus will be one of the first countries introducing the tests on arrivals from Greece since lockdowns were eased across the European Union.

Both countries kept a lid on the first wave of infections by imposing blanket lockdowns from mid-March to May, but rates have been creeping up after a lull from late May to late July.

On Saturday Greece reported its highest single-day spike in weeks, of 110 new cases, while Cyprus reported 26 new cases on Sunday.

Athens called the travel decision by Cyprus a “mistake” which it did not understand.