Amid a new wave of COVID-19 infections, powered by Omicron, Cyprus has updated its safe travel list, upgrading New Zealand to green while downgrading another two countries.
The United Arab Emirates and Canada could not dodge the wave of Omicron infections, with their worsening epidemiological data pushing them down a category.
The UAE has fallen from the safest green to orange, and Canada from orange to the high-risk red.
Cyprus has so far detected close to 100 cases of the more transmissible Omicron, with experts fearing the variant has triggered a fifth larger wave of infections.
Authorities reported a daily record count of 1,925 cases on Monday, smashing the previous high of 1,152 cases in mid-July.
Under the new assessment, there are still five countries in the safest green category.
There are 13 countries in the orange category where a negative test is needed before departure to Cyprus.
The new classification comes into effect on Thursday, 30 December.
The Health Ministry’s latest travel assessment sees 24 of the EU27 in the red where a COVID test is needed before departure.
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.
Regardless of category, all arrivals must undergo a PCR test upon arrival at the airport at their own expense (€15).
At the airport, passengers also will receive five rapid test kits that they must use during their stay if their PCR tests are negative.
Cyprus has also toughened COVID-19 screening for all travellers from the UK over age 12, including requiring them to quarantine until results from airport PCR tests are known.
The Health Ministry cited Britain’s “drastic increase” in omicron variant cases as the reason for the stepped-up measures.
Under the new rules, arriving passengers who test positive at the airport must remain in isolation until Health Ministry officials contact them with further instructions.
Meanwhile, after Omicron was detected, Cyprus has blocked entry to eight African countries (South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and Botswana).
Under the COVID assessment scheme, low-risk countries currently classified in the green category are:
- Third Countries: New Zealand, 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, Romania
- Third Countries: Australia, Japan, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Colombia, 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, 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, Canada
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.