The resumption of Cypriot tourism, but also the increase of travel traffic in general, passes not only from the epidemiological picture of the country and the markets from which our island receives visits, but, as everything shows, also from the course of the vaccination programs in Cyprus and abroad. However, for the time being the slow pace of vaccinations and the absence of sufficient quantities of available vaccines indicate that the tourist season will not start before May – June.
This is the impression expressed by almost all the tourist agents of the place, in the context of a teleconference that took place last Thursday between the Deputy Minister of Tourism with hoteliers and other industry players. The focus was on the issue of vaccines, where again all those involved agreed that the course of vaccinations will largely determine this year's performance of the tourism industry, with expectations for the time being remain positive, as it is estimated that this year will begin gradually. the recovery of arrivals.
In the context of the same teleconference, the need was emphasized before the start of the tourist season to have vaccinated all the first line employees of tourism, such as hotel employees, who come in direct contact with customers, taxi drivers and airport staff. Such a development, as we were told by representatives who participated in the teleconference, would create a shield to protect public health, but also a competitive advantage for tourist Cyprus that could be communicated to our partners abroad. In this regard, the Deputy Minister of Tourism is expected to discuss the issue with the Minister of Health, with the aim of arranging for the vaccination of a significant number of workers in the tourism industry before June.
Waiting for direction
The teleconference also discussed in detail how to treat tourists who will have been vaccinated. However, no final decisions have been made on the issue, as it is expected that there will be direction from the World Health Organization, but also from the EU, which, according to local tourism agents, will solve the hands of Cyprus regarding the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. The effort being made, we were told, is to have global standards for vaccine acceptance. It is also possible that there will be an EU decision on both the Russian and Chinese vaccines. A first discussion on the handling of vaccinated travelers is expected to take place at the EU Summit on the 21st of the month, on the occasion of a relevant letter from the Greek Prime Minister to the President of the Commission, in which he proposes the introduction of a vaccination certificate . In his proposal, Kyriakos Mitsotakis clarifies that with the certificate we are not going to make vaccination mandatory or a prerequisite for someone to travel, but, he adds, people who have been vaccinated should be free to travel. The proposal was tabled to return to some economic and social normalcy and to ensure the fastest possible resumption of the free movement of persons between Member States, but also with third countries.
The plan of Cyprus
In December, however, the amended Action Plan for the phased resumption of flights and the reopening of airports provided for vaccinated travelers, stating that they would be excluded from laboratory tests. Specifically, in the plan, as it was announced on December 3, “there is also provision for people who will be vaccinated, as they will be excluded from performing laboratory tests.” As you know, the plan, which essentially changes the way countries are categorized and lifts the quarantine and the ban that currently applies to many countries, such as Russia, will take effect on March 1.
However, as “F” is informed, the validity of the provision for those who have been vaccinated will depend on the directions and arrangements that will exist at the global and European level. However, there are already suggestions for a change of care in order for those who have been vaccinated to be exempted from molecular control (PCR), but must necessarily undergo a rapid test upon arrival in Cyprus.
For the time being, however, the rest of the provisions of the plan do not change, although the start of the transitional phase until its implementation, on March 1st, was moved to February 1st instead of January 15th.
In essence, from 1 February the existing categories will change from A, B and C to green, orange and red and a gray category will be created, however, the evaluation of all countries will be carried out by the Ministry of Health in the following way and today all countries will be able to join one of the four categories – even the gray that provides for quarantine. From March 1, however, the categories will be identified with the categorization carried out by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), while additionally ensuring that passengers from all EU countries and specific third countries interested in tourism Cyprus – Russia , Ukraine, Israel, Lebanon, UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Belarus – will not be quarantined.
The condition, however, for presenting a negative PCR, for the orange and red category will continue. Specifically, for the orange category, a negative PCR laboratory analysis will be required within 72 hours before departure, a practice that is still valid today, while for the red category, a double laboratory analysis will be required, ie a negative PCR laboratory analysis within 72 hours before departure. another PCR laboratory analysis upon arrival in Cyprus. For the categorization of countries, from March 1, the Ministry of Health will be based on the weekly report / evaluation of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). For countries where there is no evaluation by the ECDC, the evaluation will be done by the Ministry of Health.