As Cyprus braces for Omicron by stepping up checks at airports and tightening measures, Argentina and Chile are the latest countries to join the expanding COVID high-risk red category.
They have been relegated from orange, in the only changes to the island’s safe travel list assessment, as announced by the Health Ministry.
Cyprus has detected five cases of the more transmissible Omicron variant, with experts expecting that cases could triple daily to over 1,500.
With the Omicron variant now detected in 63 countries, no upgrades are expected on Cyprus’ safe travel list.
Most EU countries were on the red list before the discovery of the new variant.
Greece is the only EU state outside the red list.
Despite its worsening epidemiological data and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) placing it in the dark red zone, it remains orange.
There are 12 countries in the orange category where a negative test is needed before departure to Cyprus.
The new classification comes into effect on Thursday, 16 December.
With no other changes made to the list, the Health Ministry’s latest travel assessment sees its red category widen to 25 of the EU27.
A COVID test is needed before departure and after arrival in Cyprus.
The island bases its weekly epidemiological risk report on the equivalent list issued by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).
Cyprus is in the ECDC’s highest dark red category, which most EU states use for safe travel lists.
Meanwhile, Cyprus has blocked entry to eight African countries after Omicron was detected.
Cyprus banned the arrival and entry of any person who, during the last 14 days, has either resided or passed through South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and Botswana.
Regardless of their vaccination status, all arrivals are subjected to a PCR test at their own expense (€15).
They must also undergo an additional free rapid test 72 hours after arriving on the island.
Cyprus has confirmed over 140,851 infections and 610 deaths since March 2020.
Under the colour-coded system, there is no mandatory quarantine for tourists entering Cyprus from the EU unless they test positive for Omicron.
Regardless of category, unvaccinated tourists staying for more than a week must get tested on the seventh day of their holiday.
Under the COVID assessment scheme, low-risk countries currently classified in the green category are:
- Third Countries: United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia
Orange countries are those of higher risk than green.
Passengers must undergo a PCR laboratory test within 72 hours before departure and have a certificate proving they tested negative for the virus.
- European Union: Greece
- Third Countries: Australia, Japan, Israel, Canada, Qatar, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Colombia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Rwanda
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.
- European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland
- Small states: Andorra, Monaco, Vatican City, San Marino
- Schengen Area: Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway
- Third Countries: Egypt, Argentina, Armenia, Georgia, United States of America, United Kingdom, Jordan, Belarus, Lebanon, South Korea, Oman, Ukraine, Peru, Russia, Serbia, Chile
All the rest. Arrivals are allowed entry after acquiring special permission, 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 seven if they choose to carry out another coronavirus PCR test with a negative result on the seventh day.