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Cyprus tightens entry rules, shutting hotels over virus

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Nicosia (AFP)

The Republic of Cyprus said Sunday it would further tighten entry restrictions and close a string of businesses including the vital tourism sector's hotels to rein in the novel coronavirus.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said that from Monday entry to the country "will only be granted to those who... submit a medical certificate" showing they had been tested for the virus.

"Those who fulfil these conditions will be placed under a 14-day compulsory quarantine," he said.

He had already on Friday announced a 15-day ban on entry to non-residents, with only Cypriots, legal residents, diplomats, registered students and specific authorised people allowed in.

On Sunday, the health ministry announced the closure of shopping centres, bars and cafes, most restaurants and a string of other facilities for four weeks, starting Monday.

It said the country's hotels would be closed until April 30, except for existing guests, who will be permitted to stay for another six days from Sunday.

Anastasiades also announced a 700 million euro economic aid package to support workers and small businesses.

Cyprus is divided between EU member state the Republic of Cyprus and a northern third controlled by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Ankara.

The Republic of Cyprus' health ministry on Sunday reported seven new cases, bringing its total to 33.

All of the new cases were in self-isolation and authorities said they were searching for people with whom they may have had contact.

In addition, two British service personnel on a military base that is part of Britain's sovereign territory on the Mediterranean island have tested positive for the virus, British Forces Cyprus said Sunday.

The north has to date reported six cases -- four Germans and two Turkish Cypriots, both of whom had come to the island from the United Kingdom.

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