There was confusion at Larnaca and Paphos Airports following the arrival of airplanes after new rules came into force requiring all passengers to present a health certificate that they are coronavirus free in order to enter Cyprus.
Initial reports said that the passengers mostly Cypriot student without the necessary documents, would not be allowed to disembark and they were left on the airplane — both in Larnaca and in Paphos. Both flights had come from the UK.
But Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos went to Larnaca airport late on Monday evening and said they would be allowed to disembark but would go into quarantine for 14 days — which is required for all arrivals, even those with the health certificate.
Another 30 passengers, mostly students, who arrived from Manchester at Paphos Airport will be taken to Troodos to be quarantined. They had no contact with their families who were waiting for them at the airport, CyBC’s Paphos correspondent reported.
They were initially left on the airplane but following the minister’s intervention, they were allowed to disembark.
The minister added that he would be consulting the attorney general to determine the responsibility of the airline company which allowed passengers to board without the health certificate even if they had been officially notified not to do so.
Karousos said that it would be made clear that this will not be permitted again and that airlines cannot let people to board of they do not have the certificate.
And in a post on his Facebook page, Karousos said the government will be taking legal action against the company which boarded passengers without the certificate, despite the Notam (official notification) it had received. The passengers will be quarantined for 14 days, he added.
The new rules came into force at 6 pm on Monday. They require all those coming to Cyprus to have a health certificate from an accredited lab from the country of destination that they have tested negative for the virus. They must also spend two weeks in quarantine in facilities designated by the state.
There have been a number of complaints on social media by affected individuals who say they are unable to obtain such a certificate as overstretched health authorities only test those who have symptoms.
Hermes Airports had earlier said that they were coordinating with the health authorities so that only passengers with the certificate disembark. They are then examined by medical staff and taken to the old terminal from where they will be taken to the quarantine facilities.
The Cyprus News Agency said a flight from Malta had just managed to make the deadline. A flight from Qatar landed two minutes after 6 pm with 11 passengers who are being checked for documents.
The problem arose with a flight from the UK bringing primarily Cypriot students.
Two other flights are expected later tonight from Greece but they are coming empty, Karousos said.