Authorities have cleared 199 passengers who arrived from Athens this morning to disembark under stringent new rules restricting entry to Cyprus.
The Cyprus News Agency reports that there are two more airplanes on the tarmac — one came from Cairo and the second from Amsterdam. The passengers are still on the airplane awaiting checks.
All those who disembark are quarantined for 14 days.
Cyprus’ two airports close for all passenger flights at 3 am on Saturday, March 21 for two weeks as part of sweeping measures by the government to contain the spread of Covid 19.
Only Cypriots, legal residents and those who work or study here are allowed entry, provided they show a medical certificate that they have tested negative for coronavirus.
There has been a flood of complaints that such tests are not carried out to people who have no symptoms. In a decision on Tuesday night, cabinet slightly eased this requirement but only for Cypriots who were abroad for medical reasons or for short professional visits or holidays and who obtain a certificate proving this from the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Cyprus abroad.
Up until last night, about 600 Cypriots had contacted the Foreign Ministry for this document as they scramble to make it home before the airports close.
The Cyprus News Agency said that the Aegean flight arrived at 9.30 am with 119 passengers, including a baby.
Police, health and transport ministry officials boarded the airplane to collect the certificates which are sent to Zenon Coordinating Centre in Larnaca which gives the final green light.
They will be taken by bus to quarantine facilities designated by the government for 14 days.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said that 12 flights are scheduled to land at Larnaca Airport today — seven with passengers and five empty to take tourists home.
Three flights are expected at Paphos Airport.
Karousos said that more than 200 passengers are expected today who fulfill all the criteria. And he appealed to tour operators and airlines to open their flights so that airplanes coming empty can bring repatriating Cypriots.
The government is also considering chartering airplanes if necessary, he added.