Vaccinated Cypriots will be allowed to cross between the Republic and the Turkish occupied north without having to take a coronavirus test beforehand, according to a United Nations announcement.
The announcement was issued late Thursday, hours after President Nicos Anastasiades met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres with whom he also discussed confidence-building measures in divided Cyprus.
The UN said that the decision was taken based on the findings of the bicommunal technical committee on health during their latest meeting, earlier on Thursday, which sets the severity of the epidemiological situation at Level 2 (Orange).
Under a colour-coded scheme, green means no restrictions; orange requires a 7-day negative antigen or PCR test; dark red signals the crossings are closed to the general public.
Until recently, ‘orange’ meant that everyone, including vaccinated people had to carry a negative test. With the latest decision, vaccinated people can cross with proof of being vaccinated with one of the approved EU vaccines.
Approved vaccines include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, the Chinese Sinovac widely used in the north, and the Russian Sputnik V.
The policy change comes into effect as of Monday 27 September.
According to recent data released by health authorities in the north, some 218,479 people, or 57.19% of the population, received at least one dose, while 212,753 (55.69%) are fully jabbed.
The Republic’s Health Ministry data show that 80.6% of the island’s adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 77.1% are fully vaccinated.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Turkish Cypriots have reported 16,233 cases and 77 deaths.
The Republic on Thursday reported 145 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths, taking the total to 119,481 infections and 550 deaths.
Divided Cyprus combined has reported 135,714 cases and 627 deaths.