Commercial flights – without stringent isolation requirements – from the UK to Cyprus are unlikely to take place until August, one of the government’s scientific experts said on Wednesday.
Based on the current epidemiological data of the UK it would be “very difficult for it to be included in any category [A or B] in the coming weeks”, member of the government’s advisory group of experts on the coronavirus, Constantinos Tsioutis, told the Cyprus News Agency.
The UK is currently a category C country, meaning it is not considered safe based on the scientific data.
“It is my personal estimation that right now it [UK] could not be included in a category, whether A or B,” said the assistant professor of internal medicine and infection prevention at European University.
His comments came as President Nicos Anastasiades is set to meet with the epidemiological team on Friday to discuss further relaxations on restriction of movement with flights from the UK expected to be high on the agenda.
Flights to and from Cyprus for tourists from other countries are already ongoing.
The tourism sector, however, has expressed concern that unless more countries are placed into the A or B category then the season will further suffer.
There were high hopes amongst hoteliers that flights from the UK would be given the green light as early as mid-July.
“And if it is decided to include it [the UK] in a category it will B and it would have to be done towards the end of this month, possibly in August.”
Addressing the tourism industry directly, he said that if the decision were made to transfer the UK from category C to A or B then further checks would be necessary.
He did not elaborate as to what form any additional monitoring measures would take.
Aside from the tourism industry, there are concerns from locals over allowing flights too soon as the vast majority of recent coronavirus cases in Cyprus have been imported.
Tsioutis said that this was to be expected. He echoed sentiments made by previous advisors who say that a few cases are not a cause for concern and can be managed.
He added that as the number of flights is set to increase so are the number of new cases.
“The goal is for the numbers to remain at a manageable level.”
Category A concerns low risk countries. They are: Australia, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Japan, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and South Korea.
Category B concerns countries with increased risk. They are: Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Jordan, Holland, Spain, Poland, Romania, Serbia and United Arab Emirates.
Passengers arriving from category A countries are not obligated to present a coronavirus-free certificate.
Passengers arriving from category B countries are obligated to have been tested by a recognised laboratory within the last 72 hours prior to their departure and have a negative PCR certificate.
All passengers, irrespective which country they are arriving from, must submit an application at CyprusFlightPass (https://cyprusflightpass.gov.cy/) within 24 hours prior to their flight’s departure.