Two Turkish Cypriot students who were quarantined in the south after traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic have been transferred to the north, putting to the test the levels of cooperation between the two sides on the divided island.
According to local media, two Turkish Cypriot students who flew in via Larnaca International Airport on Monday were transferred to authorities in the north this week through a checkpoint in Nicosia.
Dozens of travelers who arrived in Cyprus on Monday after 6pm, when a required health certificate for the coronavirus went into effect, were finally allowed to disembark after hours of tension at airports and on board aircraft.
According to officials in the north, two Turkish Cypriots were among passengers quarantined in the south while Greek Cypriot media reported the group was a mix of elderly travelers and young students.
They were received by health officials in the north, who transferred them to a central quarantine facility at Malpas hotel in Kyrenia
Following complaints over conditions in state-approved quarantine facilities in the mountains, Republic of Cyprus officials moved the travelers to hotels, with the tourism deputy minister urging hoteliers to open their doors to passengers who needed to be confined for 14 days.
The two Turkish Cypriot students, who were not taken to hotels in the south, were seen crossing west Nicosia’s Agios Dometios/Metehan checkpoint under health protocols. They were received by health officials in the north, who transferred them to a central quarantine facility at Malpas hotel in Kyrenia.
Recent restrictive measures in the south made it difficult for most Greek Cypriots and many Turkish Cypriots to cross the buffer zone, with President Nicos Anastasiades saying exceptions could be made for humanitarian reasons.
In another incident in Turkey, a Turkish Cypriot female passenger described as the daughter of the chief of civil aviation in the north, sparked media controversy when Turkish police escorted her off a quarantine bus in order to let her fly to Cyprus.
It was later explained that the girl would be subject to two quarantines, one on arrival to Turkey for 14 days and another two-week period upon flying in to Cyprus.
But critics did not hold back, criticizing Turkish police for being complicit to violating health protocols. Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities previously said they had implemented a no-exceptions mandatory quarantine on all arrivals for 14 days.
People on both sides of the divided island took to social media, criticizing travelers who chose to travel at a time of a pandemic and scoring their governments for subsidizing “luxury hotel” accommodations.