With Greece being downgraded on August 6 to category B that requires arriving passengers to show proof of a negative coronavirus test, the Cyprus Health Ministry quickly responded to frustrated locals who had already travelled to Greece for holidays unknowing that they would have to make arrangements for a test in order to return to the island.
According to the Health Ministry on Monday, Cyprus nationals and legal residents of the island who had travelled to Greece by August 2, and who are set to return after August 6, will be offered a coronavirus test upon arrival at a Cyprus airport for free.
Cyprus’ move to bump Greece down to the higher-risk category B after several arrivals from the country tested positive in recent days caused anticipated inconvenience and disruption to locals who had chosen Greece as their holiday destination while it was still included in category A that allows unrestricted travel.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, just hours after Cyprus announced it would be downgrading Greece, local travel agents were flooded by calls from clients who sought to either cancel their bookings or to request clarifications on what they were expected to do in case they chose to go ahead with their trip.
Though Greece is undergoing a renewed spike in coronavirus cases with 75 announced on Saturday and 110 on Sunday, it is still faring better than many other European countries, but the majority of Cypriots who had initially made arrangements to visit the country now appear to be having second thoughts.
The flow of Cypriot passengers to Greece began picking up speed in June, when Greece constituted the main destination for locals who chose to travel once coronavirus restrictions were steadily eased.
But according to the head of the association of Cyprus travel agents Akis Kellepeshis, the flow began to slow down in early July, as local health experts warned of an increasing coronavirus trend in Greece, with travel agents having to cancel bookings and recording minimal new ones.
A similar picture is being recorded for the inflow of tourism, with the sudden surge of new coronavirus cases on the island, particularly in the coastal city of Limassol, taking a toll on the island’s promoted image as a safe holiday destination.