The government of Cyprus plans to fully reopen the country’s economy in June after more than 14 months of on-and-off coronavirus lockdowns, President Nicos Anastasiades said here on Wednesday.
The reopening is conditional on the successful continuation of the vaccination program, he said during his visit to a vaccination center in the capital to mark World Health Day.
“I hope the vaccination program continues without hindrance so that, by the beginning of mid-May, the above-45 age group would be vaccinated,” Anastasiades said. If so, “in June we will be in a position to open the economy completely.”
Currently, people over 61 are invited to book an appointment to be vaccinated. The younger age groups are scheduled to receive the jab starting next week.
Cyprus uses three vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) — those produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Anastasiades said that the country’s minister of health has been authorized to buy 50,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine pending its approval by the EMA.
The reopening of the country’s economy would include the revival of tourism, which contributes about one quarter to Cyprus’s gross domestic product (GDP), which reduced by 5.1 percent to about 19 billion euros (22.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2020 due to the pandemic lockdown.
The successful reopening of the tourism sector is highly dependent on the progress of vaccination in the United Kingdom, Cyprus’s most important tourist market, and the lifting of the British government’s travel restrictions after May 17, when the hotels across Cyprus would be fully operational again.
Cyprus already allows Israelis with a COVID-19 vaccination certificate to enter without any hindrance and is expected to do so for vaccinated visitors from other countries.
It has also moved Russia, its second largest tourist market, to the “red category” countries, from where unvaccinated travelers must present a negative coronavirus test and also take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test upon arrival.