By: Andrea Busfield
The small Mediterranean island of Cyprus is showing the world how to bounce back from lockdown as it reopens its airports for business.
According to the Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, Cyprus is leading the way with an action plan already up-and-running to admit flights – and other governments are watching closely.
“The Australian government has requested a teleconference with Cyprus, with ministers related to the opening of airports and with other EU ministers, precisely because they believe that we are among the first to prepare an action plan, which we are implementing,” he said.
The news comes as an Oxford University study ranked Cyprus in the top 10 countries most prepared for the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The study examined which countries met four of the World Health Organisation’s six recommendations for relaxing physical distancing measures including have infections at “a level of sporadic cases and clusters of cases, all from known contacts.”
As of yesterday (Tue 15/6) Cyprus has recorded 985 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 18 deaths, and the government has been largely applauded for putting the island’s health over wealth in its fight to contain the threat.
As a result, Cyprus pretty much shut for business – closing all airports on March 21 and enforcing restrictions on all movement by way of hefty fines.
Now in the process of rolling back restrictions, the daily infection rate is minimal – and often zero – with the most recent coronavirus cases among repatriated individuals.
Of course, the island has suffered badly from the lack of visitors, which is why the government is looking at every conceivable way to kickstart normality.
Having promised to cover the holiday costs of tourists who test positive on arrival, the government is also introducing rapid coronavirus tests at airports to minimize the waiting time for returning Cypriot nationals and residents.
According to the Transport Minister, the results will be ready in 90 minutes or so.
Up until now, nationals and residents arriving from countries with higher rates of infection have had to go to a hotel to await the results of testing.
“What will change, is that they will wait at the airport until the result is available,” Karousos said.
He added: “The issue is to have an effective opening of airports, productive for the economy without affecting public health.”
George Campanellas, Chief Executive of Invest Cyprus, was also optimistic about the island’s bounce back.
He said: “We are satisfied with the government’s timely and effective measures to control the pandemic which allowed us to start lifting the restrictions as early as May 4. We are now witnessing economic activity bouncing back and seeing increased economic sentiment. Our airports are open and we are confident that connectivity with all major capitals and important financial hubs will resume very soon.”