Cyprus Will Close Airport, Cypriots Abroad Want Repatriation

A traveler wearing a face mask enters form a main gate of Cyprus' main international airport in Larnaca on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

LARNACA, Cyprus — Hundreds of Cypriots living, working and touring outside the country have asked the government to let them fly back before the island country’s international airport shuts down to outbound commercial traffic on March 21 over the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

Government officials said Cypriot citizens and legal aliens could be allowed back to the country if they have health certificates showing they don’t have the virus and will still bbe put in quarantine for 14 days, except those abroad for medical treatment.

The Cyprus News Agency reported some 300 Cypriot citizens in the United Kingdom and Greece have asked to be allowed to fly back to the island before the airport shuts down, or find some way to get them home if they don’t meet the deadline.

There will be no country list in the executive order because the ban will affect all flights to Cypriot airports,” Karousos said, although outbound flights were still allowed.

Meanwhile, travelers already under quarantine, including those who returned without a health certificate, were upset about the conditions in which they were put, with one telling Kathimerini Cyprus that they were taken to the mountains in the dead of night and treated like “criminals” and “lepers” while they were assigned two to four individuals in each room.

We have no objection to being placed under quarantine, as long as they are properly ventilated … but there were no soaps or hand sanitizers,” said another traveler who was not identified before they were taken to a hotel and given individual rooms.

Tourism Deputy Minister Savvas Perdios asked hotels to cooperate with the critical summer tourism season already in dire jeopardy as more Cypriots abroad were due to return before the airport closed.

There were 49 cases reported, including 20 on the northern third of the island occupied by Turkish-Cypriots since an unlawful 1974 invasion, and as officials there set up a central quarantine location in a hotel for the affected, German tourists among them as well.

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