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Cyprus to open up doors to vaccinated tourists

CYPRUS (AFP): Cyprus said Monday it will open up to vaccinated tourists from 65 countries starting May 10, with visitors allowed entry without needing a negative Covid test or undergo quarantine.

“We will notify our partners in around 65 countries that from 10 May entry will be facilitated for travellers who have completed their vaccination with no need for negative Covid tests or quarantine,” Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said.

He told the Cyprus News Agency countries included on the list are Armenia, Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Switzerland.

European Union member Cyprus will accept tourists who had completed their vaccination, regardless of when they took the second jab. Perdios said the new move would help revive a flagging tourism sector decimated by the pandemic.

Cyprus agreed over a month ago that vaccinated Israeli and British tourists could visit the east Mediterranean holiday destination without entry restrictions.

Britain is the island’s largest market for tourists making up a third of  nearly four million arrivals in 2019, while nearby Israel is its third-biggest source.

Authorities are waiting for the UK government to announce when they will allow Britons to take holidays abroad. At the moment, Russia — the island’s second-largest tourist market — has put chartered flights on ice until further notice due to Cyprus’ worsened epidemiological data.

“We are confident that once our epidemiological picture improves, charter flights will be allowed, something we expect to happen in the coming weeks as the vaccination rollout progresses,” said Perdios. Cyprus went into a two-week lockdown on Monday, following a record surge in coronavirus cases.

The island’s key tourism industry has been devastated by the pandemic and travel restrictions, with arrivals slumping by more than 84 percent last year.

Tourists must also comply with health protocols such as mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing. Tourism contributes around 15 percent of GDP but earnings plunged 85 percent in 2020.

The island has recorded a total of 298 coronavirus deaths and 61,576 infections.