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Economy

Russia Says Cyprus Off Limits Until June 1 Over COVID-19

MOSCOW — In a big blow to Cyprus’ hopes for a good tourism season to offset a 2020 wipeout over COVID-19, the Russian airline Aeroflot said chartered flights to the island won’t begin until June 1, a loss of 100,000 visitors.

That’s because of the island still struggling to deal with the pandemic, said The Financial Mirror, tour operators on Cyprus saying they had been informed of the decision that was another setback.

“Not only was Cyprus banking on a (Russia) flight ban to Turkey due to its bad epidemiological picture, but we have followed suit, pushing the tourism sector further into a corner,”Charis Papacharalambous, spokesperson for the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) told the site.

“As an association, we are disappointed with the development as we warned authorities the situation was getting out of hand. With more than 600 cases a day, it was only to be expected we would have cancellations en masse,” he said.

He said the approach of relying mostly on mass testing isn’t working to hold down the Coronavirus after the government opened the country on April 1 to visitors who were safe.

“Although a great strategy, mass testing is simply not paying off in Cyprus as people are not isolating and not revealing their close contacts,” he said, resulting in the virus spreading further.

Cyprus had seen 6,500 visitors from Russia, a major market, but now will lose more than five weeks worth and the impact could be even worse if Russians use the time to find other destinations for the summer.

The other most important market, the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom, still won’t let people travel internationally until at least the end of May, another loss for Cyprus although Israelis are allowed.

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