Cyprus ends passenger flights ban from June 9 with conditions

Nicosia (AFP) –


Cyprus will reopen its airports to commercial flights from June 9 after nearly three months of lockdown, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said Friday.

The phased reopening will initially allow passengers to fly to the small EU state from about 20 countries.

But the island's two largest tourist markets, Britain -- which accounts for a third of all arrivals -- and Russia, are not on the initial lists, amid concerns that the new coronavirus has not been sufficiently contained in those countries.

A second phase of easing restrictions will begin on June 20, the minister said after a cabinet meeting that agreed the measures.

In the first phase, visitors will need to have tested negative for coronavirus within 72 hours of arriving in Cyprus with a certificate to prove it.

Cypriot residents can take the test upon arrival in Cyprus and will have to self-isolate until the result is known, said Karousos.

From June 20 people arriving from "Category A" countries -- a list of 13 nations, including Greece, Germany and Malta -- will not need to present a health certificate proving that they are not infected by COVID-19.

But it will still be necessary to carry a certificate proving a negative coronavirus test if arriving from Category B countries -- six nations, including Switzerland and Poland -- according to Karousos.

Karousos said commercial flights from countries not on the lists will not be allowed unless they are repatriation flights for Cypriot residents returning home during this initial period.

Cyprus issued a commercial flight ban on March 21 as part of its lockdown measures, which -- alongside a rigorous testing process -- have seen new cases fall into the low single digits day-on-day in recent weeks.

Tourism contributes about 15 percent of Cyprus' GDP and a record 3.97 million tourists visited last year.

Authorities expect arrivals will be down by 70 percent in 2020.