Cyprus plans to reopen its airports to visitors from all countries on March 1, Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios told CyBC state television on Wednesday.
“This means that passengers will be able to visit Cyprus without quarantine restrictions, unless they test positive for COVID-19 on arrival,” Perdios said.
He said that the 56 countries with which Cyprus has an air connection will be designated colors according to their coronavirus pandemic situation.
Passengers arriving from green category countries will not have to take a Covid-19 test, while those flying in from orange category countries will be obliged to present a negative test certificate before boarding a plane. Passengers arriving from red category countries will have to be tested both before boarding and after arrival.
Perdios said he did not expect any tourists to arrive in the country before March 1 and preferred not to cite an estimate for tourist arrivals this year, saying only that currently all countries are facing a second or third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would be difficult for people to travel either now or even in February and March,” he said.
Cyprus' air connections are currently restricted to only a few countries, mainly Greece, Britain, Russia, Lebanon, Egypt and Gulf states.
The Statistical Service of Cyprus has said that flights to and from Cyprus were reduced by 53 percent and tourism plunged by about 80 percent in 2020 year-on-year. In 2019, almost four million people visited the eastern Mediterranean island.
Cyprus is currently under an almost total lockdown, with only essential businesses operating and a night-time curfew in force. A vaccination program is proceeding at a slow pace as a result of limited supplies, but the authorities say they expect most of the people to be vaccinated by early summer.
The scientific team advising Cyprus’ government met on Tuesday night to review the situation amid reports that it is poised to suggest a gradual relaxation of restrictions imposed to stem the second phase of the pandemic.
The eastern Mediterranean island managed to bring coronavirus cases down during the first wave, after imposing a total lockdown from mid-March to the end of May.
After opening its airports in early June, 2020, the country started reporting record numbers of both new Covid-19 cases and deaths. [Xinhua]