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Cyprus Reopens Checkpoints With Turkish-Occupied Side of Island

NICOSIA — Border crossing points on Cyprus along a line marking the Turkish-occupied side are opening again after being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing passage for the first time since December, 2020.
Closing the border had brought initial demonstrations, sometimes violent, as it prevented people from traveling between the two sides for work, to see family or friends or shop.
"The reopening of all crossing points will facilitate free movement, promote people-to-people contacts, build trust and have an overall positive socio-economic impact across the island for the benefit of all Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," the UN mission on Cyprus, UNFICYP, said in a statement.
A committee of health experts from both sides will assess the impact of the opening on the pandemic. People who cross will require a 7-day negative antigen test or PCR test, the peacekeeping mission said, the news agency Reuters reported.
The borders had been opened and closed a number of times since the pandemic took hold in February 2020 and surged across the island as it did the world, movement carrying the virus fast through populations.
There had been easing of restrictions but there were different rules between the sides which restricted further or made it impossible, adding to the frustration along with the fear of being infected as well.
"It affected many people, couples, families, people working on both sides of the divide as well as having an economic impact,"Kemal Baykalli, a member of the peace platform, Unite Cyprus Now told the news agency.
"I think what this has shown us is that what we take for granted can easily be taken away from us in the lack of a settlement," Baykalli said, referring to the decades of failure of attempts to reunify the island after Turkey invaded in 1974.

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