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Coronavirus: Crossings could open next week

The Ledra Street crossing point has been closed for more than a year

The north has said that it is ready to reopen the checkpoints from next week, well over a year after the pandemic led to their closure.

According Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar’s special representative Ergun Olgun the north’s scientific advisory team has reached a decision on the crossings and the task of harmonising the process with the Republic has been completed.

He said on Tuesday that an agreement has been reached to reopen based on the terms of the crossings as they were prior to the pandemic – meaning that third-country nationals will also be allowed to cross.

So far there has been no official comment from the government but a bicommunal technical health committee meeting is set to take place this week.

Olgun further said that last week the north’s scientific advisory team had categorised the “south” as being in the orange category according to the World Health Organisation’s criteria.

The north’s team submitted their report to their Greek Cypriot counterparts, who in turn asked for further clarifications.

Olgun said that these details have been shared with the “south”, who have now asked for some time to study them.

‘Deputy Primer Minister’ Ersan Saner said on Monday that all the crossings will reopen at the same time once the “south” moves into the orange category.

Last week, the process of reopening hit a snag as the Turkish Cypriot leadership insisted that cases in the south were still too high.

The Greek Cypriot side had presented its own proposal for the resumption of the crossings about a month ago.

Also last week, Olgun said that the two sides had reached an agreement, but after the steep rise in coronavirus cases in the south, the north had decided to close the crossing points until the situation improved.

He added that this negative development delayed the process but now daily cases in the south had dropped to under 200.

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