NICOSIA — With the European Union dragging its heels on a COVID-19 vaccination certificate recommended by Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis to speed tourism, Cyprus moved on its own to let in United Kingdom vacationers.
Island officials said Britons who have had both their shots will be allowed in as of May 1 although the UK said it won’t let them travel until May 15, but with Cyprus a key destination as a former Colony.
Cyprus said it will let in Britons who have had two Covid-19 jabs from May, opening the door to a wave of older U.K. holidaymakers as it targets an early return in the tourist traffic on which its economy relies.
A digital platform setting up certificates that would let people avoid tests and possible quarantines and speed tourism for countries reliant on it will take several months, into the summer season, too late for people to make plans.
“This is a very important development,” Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency, adding that the step should create “the necessary stability and a sense of security for travelers so they could plan their holiday in the coming summer.”
Under the arrangement, which follows a Cypriot deal with Israel last month, visiting Brits must have had a second dose of a European Medicines Agency-approved vaccine at least seven days before traveling, said the financial news agency Bloomberg.
While tourism-dependent economies like Greece want a rapid introduction, France and Belgium have resisted, citing concerns over privacy and fairness as people who haven’t been vaccinated would be left out, the report added.
The digital green certificate “will be designed to facilitate the free movement and to ensure that while certain restrictions of free movement may remain in place, these will only be used where justified and to the extent necessary,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote European Union leaders.
“Where people can enjoy the free movement without a risk to public health, they should be able to do so,” she said, adding that it could take at least three months to complete work on the digital certificate. The commission plans to adopt the proposal for the passport on March 17.