Cyprus’ safest green category for travel is shrinking after Israel, Switzerland and Estonia were relegated to orange, leaving just 25 countries from which tourists can enter the island without restrictions.
Israel’s demotion from the green comes just days after the country’s government decided to ban Israelis from visiting Cyprus, one of their favourite holiday destinations.
The decision delivered another blow to Cyprus’ coronavirus-struck tourism sector.
It has yet to see significant flows from its two major markets, the UK and Russia, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Cyprus is suffering a fourth wave of coronavirus with record infection rates in four digits, powered by the more contagious Delta variant.
Only 14 EU member states are left in the safest green category after Estonia dropped out, falling to orange.
Switzerland joined it; a Schengen Area country also removed from green.
Another two EU member states, Denmark and Ireland, were further demoted from orange to red.
There are now 17 countries in the orange zone, including Lebanon and the USA, where a negative PCR test is required.
Furthermore, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bahrain were upgraded from the highest risk red category to orange.
Changes will come into effect on Thursday 29 July.
Under the colour-coded system, there is no mandatory quarantine for tourists entering Cyprus from the EU, keeping tourism stakeholders’ hopes for a better year than 2020 alive.
Cyprus will keep its doors open to vaccinated tourists, regardless of their country of origin, to boost arrivals that plunged 84.1% last year.
But the UK – the island’s biggest tourist market – is in the red, making it more difficult for Cyprus’ tourism sector.
Although fully vaccinated, UK tourists can enter without restrictions.
Tourists allowed unconditional entry must have a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen.
Russia’s SputnikV and China’s Sinopharm are also accepted vaccines by Cyprus.
Fully vaccinated Cypriots or legal residents are allowed entry without having to undergo COVID-19 tests or self-isolate.
Under the COVID assessment scheme, low-risk countries currently classified in the green category are:
Member States of the European Union: 1) Austria, 2) Bulgaria, 3) Germany, 4) Italy, 5) Croatia, 6) Latvia, 7) Lithuania, 8) Hungary, 9) Poland, 10) Romania, 11) Slovakia, 12) Slovenia, 13) Sweden, 14) Czech Republic
Small States: 1) Monaco, 2) Vatican City
Members of the Schengen Area: 1) Iceland, 2) Norway
Third Countries: 1) Australia, 2) Northern Macedonia, 3) Jordan, 4) Canada, 5) New Zealand, 6) Serbia, 7) Singapore
Orange countries are those of higher risk than green.
Passengers must have undergone a PCR laboratory test within 72 hours before departure and have a certificate proving they tested negative for the virus.
Member States of the European Union: 1) Belgium, 2) France, 3) Greece, 4) Estonia, 5) Finland
Members of the Schengen Area: 6) Switzerland, 7) Liechtenstein
Third Countries: 1) Azerbaijan, 2) Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3) United States of America, 4) Japan, 5) Israel, 6) Qatar, 7) China (including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan), 8) Bahrain, 9) Lebanon, 10) Saudi Arabia
This category includes countries of higher risk than orange.
Passengers coming from red category countries are required: a) to prove a negative PCR test carried out under 72 hours before departure, and b) undergo another PCR test upon arrival in Cyprus. The cost of the test is charged to the individual.
Member States of the European Union: 1) Denmark, 2) Ireland, 3) Spain, 4) Luxembourg, 5) Malta, 6) the Netherlands, 7) Portugal
Small states: 1) Andorra, 2) San Marino
Third Countries: 1) Egypt, 2) Albania, 3) Armenia, 4) Georgia, 5) United Arab Emirates, 6) United Kingdom, 7) Kuwait, 8) Belarus, 9) Montenegro, 10) Moldova, 11) Brunei, 12) South Korea, 13)Ukraine, 14) Russia
Arrivals are allowed entry after acquiring special permission, and only if they are Cypriot citizens or entitled to enter, such as people with a work permit.
Passengers must undergo a coronavirus test under 72 hours before their trip and have a certificate they tested negative for Covid-19.
Grey category passengers must remain in self-isolation for 14 days or 10 if they choose to carry out another coronavirus PCR test with a negative result.