Cyprus was one of the first western countries to take measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Ahead of most European nations it partially sealed its borders in mid March (being an island helps) then on March 21 halted all commercial passenger air traffic. Since the pandemic began, Cyprus, a nation of 1.25 million, has recorded 964 cases with 807 recoveries and 18 deaths. On June 6, it reported 0 new infections.
Cyprus Welcomes (Some) Tourists
In a letter dated May 26, 2020, the government of Cyprus announced the opening of hotels on June 1 and resumption of international air traffic on June 9, 2020, and detailed the steps being taken to reopen businesses and protect tourists. Joint Ministerial letter of 26 May and Cyprus Destination Protocol.
Here’s the catch: Only tourists originating in designated countries are permitted to travel to Cyprus. Eligible countries are determined through a weekly epidemic risk assessment of countries using criteria that ranges from testing capacity to the rates of new cases and deaths. Approved countries are assigned to Groups A or B.
Initially, all persons originating in Group A and B countries must receive a negative result on a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction test (PCR) within 72 hours of travel. Beginning June 20, restrictions will be lifted entirely for countries in Group A. For Group B, if PCR testing is not widely available, compulsory testing will be required upon arrival at Cyprus airports, at a cost of 60 euros per person. The results will be available up to 24 hours later. While awaiting test results travelers will be asked to self-isolate at their booked accommodation.
Group A Countries are Malta, Greece, Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Finland, Slovakia, Hungary, Israel, Denmark, Germany and Slovenia. Group B Countries are Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Croatia, and Estonia. Notable exclusions include the U.S. and U.K. On Cyprus all travelers will be subject to temperature checks and free random PCR tests.
Also, those traveling to Cyprus must complete a Covid-19 Traveler Declaration for inspection prior to boarding and at border control on Cyprus. This statement asks about the passenger’s travels 14 days before arrival in Cyprus, confirmation that the traveler has not visited or resided in a country not included in categories A and B, confirmation that they have not shown symptoms related to Covid- 19 in the 72 hours before the flight and that they did not come in contact with coronavirus patients 14 days before the flight.
The questionnaire is similar to but more detailed than the medical questionnaire being used in early March at Hong Kong. Hong Kong has also done a great job of protecting its citizens from the pandemic.
If you meet all of the requirements, you can enjoy Cyprus’ open-air lifestyle, abundance of personal space, and clean air.
“Win” Free Health Care
In the unlikely event anyone contracts Covid-19 during the stay, Cyprus has you covered. The plan states:
The Cyprus government is committed to taking care of all travelers who test positive during their stay, as well as their families and close contacts. The government will cover the cost of lodging, food, drink, and medication, in all cases mentioned above; the traveler will only need to bear the cost of their airport transfer and repatriation flight. (Emphasis added)
Close contacts will be accommodated in dedicated quarantine hotels.
More impressive in some ways are the measures the government is requiring for general health, safety, and hygiene at all hospitality locations with respect to staff training, physical distancing, use of face masks where physical distancing is impractical, frequent aeration, and the availability of antibacterial gel. In addition special precautions apply to these locations:
- motor vehicles,
- archaeological sites, theme parks, dive sites, sailing trips and water sports,
- swimming pools, beaches and water parks,
- bars, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and night clubs
In a worst-case scenario, a Covid-19 hospital with 100 beds will be available exclusively for travelers who test positive.
Kudos to Cyprus for success in dealing with the virus and developing and enacting a plan that should give travelers confidence that it is safe to visit Cyprus and that in the unlikely event an infection occurs, the traveler and their families and close contacts will not have to bear significant additional expense.
I’m suffering from travel withdrawal. I’d love to take a trip to Cyprus, but the rate of infections in the U.S. makes travel here risky and keeps us off the list of approved countries. Do you think Cyprus has a good plan for resuming tourism? Would you go if you could?