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Cyprus gets tough on travellers flouting virus entry rules

Cyprus lifted a commercial flight ban on June 9
Cyprus lifted a commercial flight ban on June 9 Iakovos Hatzistavrou AFP/File
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Nicosia (AFP)

Cyprus is threatening to fine or turn away incoming passengers who fail to complete online arrival forms aimed at preventing a resurgence of the novel coronavirus.

The move comes after a visitor who misrepresented their itinerary later tested positive for the disease.

Dubbed the Cyprus Flight Pass, the online form is part of authorities' efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic while allowing some international arrivals to boost its vital tourism sector.

The form must be filled out online 24 hours before boarding, irrespective of the departure country.

The transport ministry said in a statement Monday that passengers arriving without a valid online pass faced two choices: "either to enter the Republic and pay the out-of-court fine of 300 euros [$340], or, to return to the country of their departure".

The warning came after the EU member lifted a commercial flight ban on June 9. The majority of its single-digit daily reported COVID-19 cases since have been among incoming travellers.

The Republic of Cyprus currently allows entry to passengers from three lists of countries, categorised according to epidemiological data and regularly updated.

Category A countries including Germany, Greece and Austria are considered the lowest risk.

Arrivals from countries in the higher-risk category B, currently including France and Spain, must provide proof of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of departure, if possible, otherwise be tested at the airport.

All other countries are considered category C, with entry restricted mainly to Cyprus residents, who must self-isolate upon arrival.

The statement said that arrivals from category A countries who failed to fill out the online form would, in addition to a fine, be required to take a virus test at the airport at the passenger's expense.

The ministry also warned against passengers misrepresenting their country of departure.

"In a recent incident, a passenger entered the Cyprus Republic on a flight from a category A country, whilst his initial country of departure was a category C country" and without a valid online pass, it said.

He later tested positive for the COVID-19 illness and admitted that his "initial country of departure was a category C country", it said.

Authorities are considering whether there are grounds to prosecute the man for providing false information.

The Republic of Cyprus is marketing itself as a relatively safe holiday destination in the face of the pandemic, having reported 1,022 coronavirus cases and 19 deaths and tested over 10 percent of its population.

The breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Ankara, has reported 116 cases and four deaths.

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