From August 1, the UK will be included in a group of countries whose travellers need to provide negative coronavirus tests upon arrival, provided its epidemiological profile remains positive, it was announced on Friday.
The UK, the island’s main tourist market, will be upgraded to category B, the health minister said, meaning flights will be allowed. Cyprus’ second biggest market, Russia, will remain in category C.
Speaking at the presidential palace after a meeting with the experts chaired by President Nicos Anastasiades, Ioannou said they had discussed the classification of countries, especially those that are important for Cyprus tourism, the UK, Russia and Israel.
“Israel is not included in the 15 countries green lighted by the EU so there is no question of tourist arrivals from Israel,” Ioannou said.
Russia’s epidemiological data were not good enough so it would remain in category C, he added.
“Britain’s data however, according to the presentation done by the epidemiological team, show, and it has been decided, that if the same good epidemiological profile continues, it can be placed in category B by August 1,” Ioannou said.
Travellers from countries in the B list have to provide Cypriot authorities with a negative coronavirus test taken 72 hours before travelling. The test should be done in the country of origin.
Only Cypriot nationals and permanent residents can be tested in Cyprus.
The meeting also discussed a proposal by virologist Leontios Kostrikkis to ramp up screenings at airports.
“In essence to increase tests fivefold,” Ioannou said. “It is a practice followed in other countries.”
The minister said they would talk with the labs to make it happen without extra cost, by grouping samples together. If the test is positive, then individual tests would be conducted.
Of the situation in the north and the fact they had cases from Turkey, Ioannou said it was also discussed during the meeting.
Turkey was not included in the 15 countries approved by the EU for tourist travel, the minister said so nothing would change as regards the crossing points.
Health authorities will continue conducting random tests on passengers from category A countries.
“We do 300 tests as a precaution and now, with the new method, we’re talking about 1,500 tests per day,” Ioannou said.
Tourism minister Savvas Perdios said there was interest from travel agents who “wanted to know when it would be possible to include the UK in Category B.”
A tour operator cannot be informed that a country will be placed in category B today and bring tourists tomorrow, Perdios said.