Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Two students challenge right to return in court (updated)

Two Cypriot students studying abroad and seeking repatriation have appealed to the courts to grant them an order allowing their return.

Two cases were filed, one at the Nicosia district court, and one at the administrative court.

After the government closed down passenger flights from March 21 initially for a two week period, effectively denying those overseas the right to return.

The students are challenging the legality and whether the government has acted within the parameters of the constitution, and are asking for an interim order which would grant them the right to return home.

“Every citizen has the right to exercise their legal rights at the courts. The government has the right to and obligation to defend the necessity and legality of the painful measures which were taken in the interest of the public good,” Attorney General Costas Clerides told the Cyprus News Agency.

Just after the measures were first announced, lawyer Achilleas Demetriades told the Cyprus Mail that: “The government has an obligation to regulate matters relating to public health. Nevertheless, this regulation cannot extend to depriving the right of Cypriot citizens to return to their homeland.”

As the outbreak began and the Covid-19 pandemic reached Cyprus, the government imposed harsh restrictions and conditions for entry back to the island.

The vast majority of the initial infections in Cyprus involved people returning or coming from the UK.

The bar was set so high that analysts said it effectively banished Cypriots from returning home.

The tough restrictions were gradually picked apart in the following days and exceptions were made. Eventually, the government backed down from necessitating a health certificate proving a negative testing of Covid-19.

Embassies and high commissions abroad were able to sort out the necessary paperwork.

Students, however, were from the onset asked not to return. The foreign ministry  has said it is currently looking at how to repatriate only those that belong to vulnerable groups.

Offering a cushion to students stuck abroad, the government set up a programme allowing them to apply for 750 euros, provided they do not return for the Easter holidays.


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