Cypriots were advised on Tuesday to avoid travelling to the UK “unless absolutely necessary”, following the detection of a new potent strain of the coronavirus, thought to have boosted COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom.
The official advisory from the Foreign Ministry comes as the EU and the world close their doors to travellers from Britain, as well as cargo from and to the UK.
Cypriots should only travel to the UK if necessary, and “should seek to find regulations and restrictions in force regarding entry and stay in the UK” said a Foreign Ministry announcement.
People travelling to the UK, “should bear in mind that controls and/or restrictions in relation to Covid-19 may change at any time due to the situation, in a way that affects your journey,” the ministry said.
“Cypriot citizens temporarily finding themselves, or permanently residing, in the United Kingdom are urged to follow the local and international media for the latest developments regarding Covid-19 and the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to strictly adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and to take all appropriate individual measures to protect their health,” it added.
Earlier on Monday, the Health Ministry announced that all passengers arriving from the UK will have to quarantine for a minimum of seven days in a state-designated facility, changing earlier plans on a two-week self-isolation.
The move comes after some EU countries banned UK flights when Britain said it had found a new strain of the coronavirus.
Cyprus opted against an outright ban on flights from the UK as other European Union countries have done.
Initially, Cyprus’ health authorities announced on Sunday that all passengers arriving from the UK would have to self-isolate for 14 days or 10 days provided they undergo a negative PCR test within that period.
Passengers from the UK will now be taken to a designated hotel paid for by the state after they undergo a PCR test at the airport. The measures came into effect at 6 pm on Monday.
The quarantine requirement for passengers arriving at Larnaca or Paphos airports is irrespective of the PCR test they must undergo when they land.
The measure is compulsory for all passenger over the age of 18, whilst minors have the choice to self-isolate at home.
Self-isolate after 7 days
People under state quarantine will undergo a PCR test after seven days. If they are found to be negative to the virus, they will be instructed to self-isolate at home for another three days.
Given that they do not develop symptoms, people can end their isolation after the tenth day.
Cyprus decisions came after European countries started banning flights coming from the UK on Sunday as London warned that a potent new strain of the virus was “out of control”.
Britain’s European neighbours began closing their doors amid alarm about a rapidly spreading strain of coronavirus that has caused cases to soar there.
France banned all people and cargo coming from the UK for 48 hours from Sunday night, whether by road, air, sea or rail.
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands ordered a suspension of flights from Britain, while Ireland said it was also imposing restrictions on flights and ferries from its neighbour.
Belgium closed its borders to flights and trains, including the popular Eurostar train service.
Third countries such as India, Pakistan, Russia, Jordan and Hong Kong have also suspended travel for Britons. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman closed their borders to the UK completely.
Connect2CY online platform
Meanwhile, the Cyprus Foreign Ministry urged Cypriot citizens who are already in the UK or intend to travel to the country are encouraged to register on the Connect2CY online platform.
“All passengers intending to travel/return to Cyprus are obliged to register on the online platform Cyprus Flight Pass and fulfil all applicable conditions for entry into the Republic of Cyprus, as defined by the relevant Decrees and Decisions of the Council of Ministers,” added the announcement.
Relevant decrees, announcements, press releases and information from the Ministry of Health of the Republic and other competent Authorities and Services of the Republic are available on the dedicated Press and Information Office website (https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/eng )
Telephone numbers in case of an emergency:
High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus in London:
+44 2073214100 (9.00-16.30, Monday-Friday)
Consular Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
+357 22651113 (8:30-15:00, Monday-Friday)
Duty Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
+357 99660129 (outside working hours*)
Crisis Management Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
+357 22801000 (8:30-15:00, Monday-Friday)