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In COVID-19 Second Lockdown, Cyprus Hopes March Travel Reopening

Αssociated Press

A security guard walks along at the empty Elephtherias, Liberty, square in central capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA - Despite being locked down a second time - exempt airports and ports - in a bid to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, Cyprus is looking toward allowing travelers to return in March for an early kickstart to the tourism high season.

Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios told CyBC state television that the government expects by then it will be safe to open to visitors from all countries deemed to have safe levels of the Coronavirus.“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 and that those from safest countries won’t have to take a test on landing.

Others, depending on their countries epidemiological data, would need to show a negative test certificate before boarding and those from the hardest-hit areas would have to show them as well on landing.

Perdios said he did not expect any tourists to arrive in the country before March 1 and didn’t give an estimate for arrivals with hopes for a big rebound after a disastrous 2020 when the virus raged, still lingering around the world.

“It would be difficult for people to travel either now or even in February and March,” he said without explaining why Cyprus would then open in March and not later to make sure travel is safe, international air traffic still limited.

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 said flights to and from Cyprus were reduced by 53 percent and tourism plunged some 80 percent in 2020 after another record in 2019 saw nearly four million arrivals, said the Chinese news agency Xinhua’s report.

Only essential businesses are allowed to be open now and a vaccination program has been off to a slow start with limited supplies as has been the case in the European Union and other countries but officials expect total inoculation by the summer.

The scientific team advising Cyprus’ government met to review the situation amid reports it’s ready to recommend easing back the restrictions, but only if the data shows that it’s safe, the report also added.