No COVID-19 Lockdown Swedish Tourists Welcome on Cyprus Yet

Αssociated Press

People sit and walk at the rebuilding a main Elephterias, "Liberty", square near the Ledra street the main shopping street in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, May 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Cyprus anxiously wants tourists as a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-10 Coronavirus winds down - just not from Sweden, where there weren’t restrictions, bringing fears that Swedes could bring it with them.

The Cypriot government said the first wave of visitors would be allowed from 19 European countries with good records in dealing with the pandemic, similar to Cyprus’ but Sweden isn’t on it, Bloomberg reported.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told the financial news agency she was hoping for “a proportional reaction. We don’t want discrimination,” as she tries to improve her country’s reputation and standing in the world after scenes showing full bars and restaurants.

Sweden’s COVID-19 mortality rate, with 39 per 100,000, was among the highest in the world, the government’s decision to go with “herd immunity,” to contain the virus backfiring and bringing death.

Linde said she understands some of the frustration around Sweden’s lax virus response, she argued that it’s wrong to “just look at death rates during a certain week,” without showing any sympathy for the actual victims. 

Linde, who plans to raise the issue with Cyprus at a meeting of European Union ministers on May 29, said decisions on tourism should be based on facts - apparently apart from deaths in her country - not “political markers aiming at showing strength at home.”

Two other major markets for Cyprus, Russia and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom are also off the table for now because of the number of cases and deaths in those countries. Sweden is the island’s sixth-biggest tourist market with 144,605 visiting last year, a 6% drop from 2018.