Two Cypriot students stranded abroad are challenging the legality and constitutionality of the Republic of Cyprus’ restriction measures enforced amid the coronavirus outbreak, and have asked Cyprus courts to issue interim orders that would allow their repatriation.
The news emerged on Thursday, when the universal flight ban was extended by the government for two more weeks, essentially banning the operation of passenger planes in the Republic, excluding cargo and special charter flights approved by the government.
Commenting on Thursday on the cases lodged against the Republic by the Cypriot students stranded overseas, Attorney General Costas Clerides told the Cyprus News Agency that one student has filed a lawsuit at a District Court, while a second student has lodged an appeal with the Administrative Court.
Both cases are challenging the legality of the restriction measures that have been steadily growing tighter since coronavirus broke out in Cyprus in early March, and are asking courts to judge whether the measures fall within the parameters of the Constitution, before issuing an interim order that would allow the students to return to the island.
“Every citizen is certainly entitled to exercise his or her individual legal rights before Courts, but the Republic also has the right and obligation to defend the necessity and legality of the painful measures it has taken for the sake of the common good,” Clerides said.
The Attorney General added that “I do not believe that there is any pleasantness in engaging in legal battles regarding the legality of measures of life or death during these critical times that our country and the world as whole is experiencing, but since rights are being exercised, justice must respond.”
The Republic of Cyprus had initially come down hard on arrivals into the island as the island’s first infections involved people returning from abroad.
The government also made several calls to students to refrain from returning to the island, even offering a €750 sum to those who choose to stay put overseas.
Measures imposed by the government have steadily loosened after severe backlash as many, particularly students, were effectively forbidden from returning home, while certain conditions that were set by the government, such as returnees having to obtain a medical certificate which was not being issued abroad for cases that did not show symptoms of the virus, were also revised.
Several groups of people are now allowed to return to the island on rescue flights chartered by the government from London and Athens, including students that are part of vulnerable groups, and those who had travelled abroad for medical reasons.
Currently, any persons wishing to return to the island on rescue flights, several of which have already been chartered by the government, must obtain the necessary paperwork from Cyprus diplomatic missions abroad.