Cyprus and Israel reached an agreement on Sunday which would allow vaccinated Israelis to travel to the island without quarantine or other testing restrictions.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades announced on Sunday evening that Israeli citizens who have been vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine will be able to freely travel to Cyprus, with a tentative date set for April 1.
Anastasiades, who flew to Israel over the weekend, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said the deal “opens up the possibility of restarting tourism in the near future.”
“Cypriot tourists in Israel and Israeli tourists in Cyprus,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu, who is facing an unprecedentedly tough election battle in late March, referred to Anastasiades as a 'great friend of Israel and a great personal friend'
Anastasiades said "the resumption of unrestricted free movement is of great importance to Cyprus, which is a tourism-dependent country,” according to CNA.
The deal to be finalized by high-level officials would allow the use of “green passports,” enabling the vaccinated to travel freely between the two neighboring countries without having to quarantine or take PCR tests.
Israel wasted no time in an aggressive vaccination campaign that saw millions get the first of two required doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while over 2 million have already received the second shot.
The prime minister, who is facing an unprecedentedly tough election battle in late March, referred to Anastasiades as a “great friend of Israel and a great personal friend” according to a Cyprus presidency press release.
Last week Greece and Israel signed a similar deal, after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pushed the European Union to adopt a common vaccination passport to help the tourism industry.
Brussels has not openly supported the initiative, citing a number of concerns including logistical problems and travel discrimination issues.
But Cyprus’ tourism deputy minister Savvas Perdios told state radio Monday morning that it was a member state’s right to implement such policies.
Perdios also said Nicosia has been in contact with Brussels and European Commission officials, but it was not fully clear whether the island got a green light for the so-called “free pass.” The minister said other EU countries were making similar deals.
“But just because someone gets vaccinated, that doesn’t mean they are free to do whatever they want,” Perdios said, adding that all protocols have to be followed by vaccinated travelers, including wearing a face mask and keeping social distances.