yprus will allow British tourists who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 into the country without restrictions from May 1, its government has announced.
The country’s tourism minister Savvas Perdios confirmed that vaccinated UK nationals could from that time begin visiting without a negative test, or needing to quarantine.
He said that visitors would need to be inoculated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency.
The second dose of a vaccine should be administered at the latest seven days before travel, he added, with authorities reserving the right to carry out random tests on arrivals.
British visitors are the largest market for Cyprus’s tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Income from the sector, which represents about 13 per cent of the Cypriot economy, plunged on average 85 per cent in 2020.
Cyprus has been in and out of lockdown for about a year but its coronavirus outbreak has been mild compared to other countries.
By Thursday, it had recorded a total of 36,004 infections and 232 deaths. Authorities have also introduced widespread testing, with almost everyone obliged to take a test once a week.
Spain has indicated that it could create a so-called “green corridor” to allow vaccinated British tourists into the country in the summer.
The country’s tourism minister Fernando Valdes has said the the plan could kick in if there is no EU-wide agreement on vaccine passports.
Those would allow holidaymakers with proof of having been vaccinated to travel.
Spain has confirmed it is in talks with the British government. Like Cyprus its vital tourism industry has been severely hit in the pandemic. The country is the favourite destination of British holidaymakers but the number who made the journey was down 80% on the summer of 2019.
The Greek government is also considering allowing British tourists in if they have proof of receiving a vaccine.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that discussions are under way with governments and the EU to kick-start tourism
He said: “We are absolutely working with our international partners on the need for certification in terms of having had a vaccine to be able to travel to another country,” he said during a Downing Street press conference.
“If another country wants to say that you need to have been vaccinated with a recognised vaccine to travel there we want to enable Brits to be able to take that journey. So we are working with international partners, and the EU is part of those discussions, as are several other countries around the world, and it’s obviously important work.”
Hancock said it was crucial to ensure the scheme allows people to travel who have been unable to have a jab in time. “As I understand it from the details set out, the EU proposal is that certification includes both whether you’ve had the vaccine and also whether you’ve recently had a test so those who can’t get vaccinated yet, which is particularly important,” he said. “It matters that we get the details of this right for international travel.”
The European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said earlier that she intended to publish draft legislation on 17 March over a “pass” that vaccinated EU citizens could use to travel for work or tourism. Leaders will discuss the issue at a summit eight days later.
“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the EU or abroad – for work or tourism,” Von der Leyen had told a meeting of German conservative politicians on Monday.
She later tweeted: “The aim is to provide: proof that a person has been vaccinated; results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet; info on Covid-19 recovery. It will respect data protection, security & privacy.
The move was welcomed by Spain, Portugal and Greece, and a spokesperson for Boris Johnson said the UK would be interested in discussing the concept with Brussels. The prime minister has said non-essential international travel could be permitted from May 17 if the infection rates continue to fall.