Opening to unsafe markets for the sake of reviving tourism out of the question – Cyprus Health Minister

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The premature opening to big but unsafe tourist markets for the sake of reviving tourism is out of the question, Cypriot Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Friday.

Responding to pressure from hoteliers and tourist businesses for the reclassification of countries, Ioannou told Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation radio that prematurely opening to big markets, such as that of Britain and Russia, would quickly lead to a second wave of coronavirus infections, which would tarnish the good epidemiological image of Cyprus in just a few days.

Most of the new Covid-19 cases announced by health authorities over the past several days have been related to travelers.

After five new cases were announced, the Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that it was concerned over the appearance of Covid-19 cases whose origin was impossible to trace in communities.

Ioannou dismissed suggestions that tourists from high-risk countries could be screened by mass testing on entry at the airports.

“Just imagine what would happen even if only a few travelers tested positive, even five, each day. Quarantine facilities and hospitals would be filled in no time at all,” he said.

He added that Britain, the biggest tourism market for Cyprus, will be classified in Group B on August 1, meaning that travelers would need a certificate for a negative coronavirus test.

Russia, the second-biggest tourist provider, is still in Group C, which includes all countries from where flights are not allowed to enter European Union countries.

Tourism arrivals in Cyprus last month posted an annual decline of 98.2% as they reached 9,119, compared to 509,662 in June 2019, according to the Cyprus Statistical Service.


Xinhua / eKhatimerini 

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