Well-placed sources have told the Cyprus Mail that from August 1, all category B tourist arrivals in Cyprus may be able to take a free rapid coronavirus test at both Larnaca and Paphos airports, which will allow them entry into the country.
This would mean that if, as previously indicated by the Cyprus government that the UK will be moved into category B from August 1, holidaymakers from the UK would save around 240 euros for a family of four wanting to holiday in Cyprus. Currently, category B are permitted to enter Cyprus only if they present a negative PCR test result taken in the previous 72 hours, ahead of boarding a flight.
The free tests will be subsidised 50/50 by the government and the Cyprus hoteliers, according to sources. They say the move is to encourage travellers from Category B countries, especially the British, Cyprus’ main market, to travel to Cyprus from the beginning of August and onwards.
“The president asked hoteliers to vote on whether we would be willing to cover fifty per cent of the cost of the coronavirus test yesterday (Wednesday) and we all supported it unanimously,” a member of the Hoteliers Association, who wished to remain unnamed, confirmed to the Cyprus Mail on Thursday.
The offer will only cover holidaymakers that are due to stay in Cyprus in licensed establishments such as hotels and hotel apartments. It will not cover those returning to holiday homes or choosing to stay in privately rented accommodation, he was quick to point out.
On arrival, passengers will be swabbed, ‘it will take 35 minutes to do the entire plane,’ the source said and the results will be ready within the hour.
“By the time passengers have gone through passport control and collected their luggage, they won’t have longer than 20 minutes to wait,” he said.
More equipment and staff are being supplied to airports ahead of the start of August to ensure the procedure runs as smoothly as possible, he said.
The source said that hoteliers had also requested that a handful of flights should be allowed in to Cyprus in the next two weeks with holidaymakers from the UK as a pilot scheme, in order to iron out any glitches that may occur.
“Our request for a trial period of the next two weeks was rejected. They probably need time to get everything together, such as the testing kits and more equipment,” he said.
Hoteliers hope that this move will help to save the industry which is facing the biggest crisis in living memory, he said.
A spokesman for the communications and transport ministry told the Cyprus Mail he was unable to confirm the rumours ‘right now’.
“Nothing has been decided on the issue yet,” he said.
He added that if and when, any decisions were taken, they would be announced through the Press and Information Office, but that nothing had been finalised.