Cypriot Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela is pushing Brussels to modify the EU traffic light system or scrap it altogether, saying the criteria currently in place disfavor Cyprus.
The health minister was asked by reporters on Monday, following a House finance committee meeting, to explain why the Republic of Cyprus always landed in the red category despite having low infection rates.
“Unfortunately the criteria that were chosen for categorizing those countries were not very good for Cyprus,” the minister said.
Hadjipantela also pointed out that he took an initiative aimed at asking the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to change the criteria or scrap the system altogether.
“We are very close to seeing the criteria change or the system being abolished,” the Cypriot health minister said, adding that “this has been achieved with our country’s initiative.”
If a new vaccination-based system gets adopted within EU, travelers who have been fully vaccinated would be able to move freely regardless of the epidemiological situation in the travel countries
It is understood that a proposal on the basis of free movement has been proposed to European agencies where member states would base their system on vaccination status.
Travel and tourism stakeholders, including the European Travel Commission, have called on the EU Commission and member states to recognize all seven vaccines approved by the World Health Organization.
But the ETC has also asked that antigen tests be accepted as an alternative test, citing speed and more cost-effective factors compared to PCR tests.
Previously officials pointed to downsides with the traffic light system, acknowledged by the ECDC, saying every country had a different testing system, and the vaccination rates differ from one country to another.
According to official data, 64.4% of the population in the Republic of Cyprus has been fully vaccinated, while adults who received at least one dose of the vaccine came to 82.2%. Fully vaxxed adults came to 79.8% as of late October.
The health minister also said on Monday any thoughts about relaxation of measures would be put on hold due to the Delta+ variant of the coronavirus coupled with an increase in confirmed cases.
“If there is adherence to current measures and the vaccination program gets a boost, then there will be no need to toughen up measures,” Hadjipantela said.
Last month the Cypriot government said people who received only one of two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were no longer eligible to use a Safe Pass unless they completed their vaccination or chose to conduct rapid tests at their own expense.
If a new vaccination-based system gets adopted within EU, travelers who have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease would be able to move freely regardless of the epidemiological situation in the travel countries.
The traffic light system is currently neither required by law nor does it supersede national regulations but it is followed by EU member states in an effort to boost travel within the bloc.