COVID19: Cyprus downgrades Poland to high-risk, Portugal upped to Class B

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Cyprus removed Poland from its ‘safe’ list of countries, after a spike in cases earlier in the week were attributed to arrivals from Warsaw, with state officials saying the decision was based on a deteriorating epidemiological situation in that country.

Poland has been downgraded from Category A (no Covid-19 test required), to B, effective from Friday, August 14.

At the same time, Portugal was upgraded from Class C to B, meaning arrivals from Lisbon would need to secure a negative Covid-19 test some 72 hours prior to travel to Cyprus.

Cyprus is struggling to revive its tourist industry, by far the economy’s biggest earner, allowing the arrival of tourists from Britain as of August 1, with the UK also rated as Class B. Cypriots returning from Britain have the option to take the test once they arrive at Larnaca or Paphos airport, as long as they remain in quarantine until the test results are issued.

Despite Britain’s worsening situation with the coronavirus pandemic, Cyprus welcomed British tourists with open arms, hoping to rescue the troubled sector that relies mainly on arrivals from the UK and Russia, together accounting for more than two thirds of all foreign holidaymakers on the island. Russia remains on the high-risk list.

With the past three years recording all-time high numbers of arrivals, close to 4 mln tourists a year, that number has trickled down to less than a tenth for the entire year, according to projections.

To date, British tourists do not seem to be the main cause for imported coronavirus cases in Cyprus, prompting hoteliers to encourage more holidaymakers from the UK, even suggesting a 50% subsidy on Covid-19 tests, which the government rejected.

Upon arrival on the first day allowing British tourists, most said at the airport that their preparation had been unhindered, the flights were comfortable and check out at the airport was smooth, considering the situation and restrictions affecting the entire world.


No flights with infected passengers

An executive at specialist tour operator, Sunvil Holidays, told the Financial Mirror that the good news is that no flights to Cyprus have been reported as having infected passengers on board, with the risk of transmitting Covid-19 to others.

Furthermore, the fact that airline crew have been reported as being unaffected is also an indication of the improving situation.

“Ironically, what we have to deal with is ground crew at the airports in Britain, some of whom are not up to date with the latest developments in regulation changes,” the Sunvil executive said.

Cyprus is expected to see an increase in UK tourists from mid-August after a major British tour operator came to an agreement with the Deputy Tourism Ministry to reinstate package holidays to the island.

This was revealed by Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios to state radio CyBC.

He did, however, avoided naming the tour operator, although some news reports suggested it was Jet2.

Reportedly, coronavirus tests in the UK cost around £200, if carried out in the private sector while the NHS will only test people with symptoms.

TUI and Jet2 cancelled their programmes to Cyprus until mid-August in the hope the UK would make it to the list of category A countries, where no COVID-19 test is required.

On August 4, when the last list of ‘safe’ and ‘high risk’ countries were announced, Cyprus downgraded Greece to category B, infuriating tour operators and hoteliers in Greece, with many in Cyprus cancelling their holidays, fearing an increasing rate of infections.

Greece is also the number one holiday destinations for Cypriots – who will also need to get tested upon their return home.

Greece’s demotion came after a spike in cases with a number of Cypriots found to be positive for coronavirus after returning from a holiday, especially from the popular Greek islands.

Cyprus Airways 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.

Visitors from the 23 classified Category A countries are not required to provide a negative COVID-19 test.

Arrivals from countries in Category B need proof they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight to Cyprus.

All passengers, irrespective of category, are obliged to submit an application online for CyprusFlightPass ( ) within 24 hours of departure.

Passenger arrivals are also randomly tested at the airports.

Group A – Low-risk countries

These are countries with R (t) of below 1 and/or a small number of new cases (<1/100,000 inhabitants a day)  and/or very low COVID19 mortality  (<5-10/100,000 inhabitants) and/or sporadic cases or cluster of cases according to WHO and /or at least satisfactory tests (>3000 tests/100,000 residents):

EU members: 1) Austria, 2) Germany, 3) Denmark, 4) Estonia, 5) Ireland, 6) Latvia, 7) Lithuania, 8) Malta, 9) Hungary, 10) Slovakia, 11) Slovenia, 12) Finland.

Members of Schengen: 1) Switzerland, 2) Iceland, 3) Liechtenstein, 4) Norway.

Third countries: 1) Georgia, 2) Japan, 3) Canada, 4) New Zealand, 5) South Korea, 6) Thailand.

Group B

These are countries with R (t) above 1 and/or new cases of  >1/100,000 people a day and/or increased COVID-19 mortality (>10/100,000 people)  and/or limited lab tests  (<2000 tests/100,000 people) or lack of classification by WHO.

The Category now includes 18 countries down from 19 in the previous list.

EU members: 1) Belgium, 2) France, 3) Spain, 4) Italy, 5) Croatia, 6) The Netherlands 7) the Czech Republic, 8) the UK, 9) Greece, 10) Poland, 11) Portugal.

Small nations: 1) Andorra, 2) Monaco, 3) Vatican City, 4) San Marino.

Third countries: 1) Australia, 2) Ruanda, 3) Tunisia, 4) Uruguay, 5) China.

Category C

EU Member state 1) Bulgaria, 2) Sweden, 3) Luxembourg, 4) Romania.

Third countries: 1) Algeria, 2) Serbia, 3) Morocco, 4) Montenegro.

Category C passengers need to carry a negative COVID-19 test and self-quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, daily cases reported in Cyprus remained at double-digit levels, with 25 new cases reported on Tuesday, four of whom had just returned from Greece.

Tuesday’s rise in cases follows an announcement earlier in the day with the minister of health and the scientific advisory committee saying that the spread of the coronavirus seems to be thinning and the situation seems to be improving, allowing for a partial relaxation of measures for the port town of Limassol that had seen a disproportionate increase in Covid19 infections in recent weeks.