Only nationals of Cyprus and Israel and permanent residents in both countries who hold a valid vaccination certificate will be able to travel to Cyprus without any restrictions, authorities clarified on Thursday.
The transport ministry had announced on Wednesday evening that as per a cabinet decision, that from April 1, all passengers who were vaccinated against Covid-19 and held a valid certificate from the Republic of Cyprus, would not be subjected to self-isolation and mandatory testing upon arrival.
This raised confusion about who exactly could enter the country as the ministry’s original announcement spoke of all vaccinated people, which was acknowledged by the ministry.
A transport ministry spokesperson on Thursday clarified for the Cyprus Mail that the change concerned Cypriots, Israelis and permanent residents in Cyprus and Israel who have been vaccinated and hold valid vaccination certificates issued by these two countries.
These passengers must still obtain a CyprusFlightPass. If they meet the required conditions, these passengers will be able to travel to Cyprus from any country category, green, orange, red or grey, without having the obligation to meet the prerequisites of the corresponding category, such as RT-PCR tests, self-isolation, or quarantine, or the special permission to enter Cyprus.
They are not exempt, however, from the random testing carried out by the health ministry at the airports as well as the meticulous implementation of the health protocols valid in the Republic. Authorities point out that vaccinated passengers from Cyprus and Israel must make sure that a specific number of days, determined by the health ministry, has elapsed between the last dose (depending on the vaccine administered) and the date of travel. They are urged to receive more information from the Cyprus flightpass portal.
For the rest of the passengers, the protocols currently in place apply, the spokesperson said.
“Today very important markets for our tourism are opening and it is an opportunity for Cyprus to put itself again on the tourism map,” Deputy Minister for Tourism, Savvas Perdios said on Thursday. The minister told the Cyprus News Agency that the first flights from Israel start on Thursday expressing optimism this was a market that was gradually starting to open for Cyprus.
Perdios also said that there has been interest from the Russian market stating that there might be an opening at the end of the month, though no agreement has been made yet concerning the vaccination certificate.
For the moment, Cyprus accepts only the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Russia’s Sputnik vaccine has not been approved yet.
Perdios said it is not easy to predict how many tourists will visit the island because, though Cyprus has done what it could to send out the message it is open for tourism, this depends on many factors, pointing out that there are travel advisories banning trips abroad.
“I believe this will be constantly changing within the coming weeks, not only due to the situation abroad but also from our own epidemiological picture,” Perdios said.
The minister said he expects a small number of tourists initially “and we hope that this will be the beginning that will give the push for a more significant tourist flow from June onwards.”
There is still hope, the minister said, since, judging by the feedback from tour operators and airlines Cyprus is in their priorities though they too know “that we all depend on travel advisories.”
Referring to the announcement by cruise line Royal Caribbean International that all-new 7-night cruises will be departing from Limassol, starting July 10, Perdios said this was one of Cyprus’ biggest successes on issues of tourism since the country was chosen as a base.
The liner Jewel of the Seas will sail from Cyprus to Greek islands from July through October.
“It is important, not only for us locals, who want to take a cruise and travel abroad, but it is also important for the influx of tourists to the island, because anyone who wants to board such ships should come (by plane) to Cyprus,” Perdios said.
A health ministry spokesperson told the Cyprus Mail that visitors from other countries will have to comply with all measures against the spread of coronavirus applied in Cyprus, including the curfew.
This means they will also need to get permission to go outside. People with a foreign mobile telephony provider must call +357 22 285777 for permission. An automated message gives them instructions on what to do. When the procedure is completed, they receive the permission to go out on their mobile phones.