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Coronavirus

Cyprus Ends COVID-19 Commercial Flight Ban

LARNACA, Cyprus — An Israeli plane with 22 passengers aboard was the first commercial flight to touch down at Cyprus’ main Larnaca airport after the east Mediterranean country re-opened its airports following the end of an 11-week flight ban aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Nora Reich, a passenger aboard the small Israir turboprop that arrived Tuesday from Tel Aviv said she rushed to catch the first flight to Cyprus to see her newborn granddaughter.

“My daughter is with her family, they are diplomats here,” Reich told The Associated Press. “And now she have a baby, she delivered a baby girl. I come with the first flight to see her. “

Israel is among a group of 19 countries with low COVID-19 infection rates from which Cyprus is now permitting commercial flights.

But passengers must secure a health certificate three days in advance of departure declaring them coronavirus-free.

The need for a health certificate expires on June 20 for 13 of those countries including Greece, Finland, Norway and Germany.

Tourism-dependent Cyprus is keen to resume flights in hopes of salvaging the summer tourism season. Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said the country of around 880,000 people is looking to capitalize on its very low infection rate — 970 confirmed infections and 18 deaths — to attract tourists.

Karousos said it’s projected that the country will secure about 35% of the nearly 4 million arrivals it received last year.

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