NICOSIA – Tourists or residents in Cyprus must scramble to return home by 4am on November 1 to avoid a 14-day quarantine to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, marking another blow to international flights and tourism.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Cyprus and Lithuania had been removed from safe travel lists even though the island had a relatively good record of holding back cases.
The beleaguered travel company wants the British government to implement a better airport testing system to catch cases and provide a boost for international travel that has been nearly destroyed by the coronavirus and travel fears.
Those who do not return from Cyprus in time will have to self-isolate for a period of two weeks although it did not say how that would be enforced or what the penalty would be.
The move came because the seven-day infection rate had risen above 100 cases per 100,000 in Lithuania and in Cyprus, where resistance has grown to more stringent measures, even as demonstrations have turned violent.
“This is another nail in the coffin (for travel,)” Noel Josephides, founder of tour operator Sunvil told British newspaper The Guardian. “The government has learned that they have to do something about airport testing a few months ago; how they left him so late really beat me, “he added.
Paul Charles of PC Agency, a campaigner for airport testing, said he did not understand why. “Germany’s infection rate is up 200%. The number of cases is soaring and will be locked up briefly, so why isn’t the risk as high as Cyprus? “He told the newspaper.
Just a week earlier, Britain said it was safe to travel to the Canary Islands as well as the Maldives, Denmark and the popular Greek island of Mykonos where there have been wild parties this summer in violation of health protocols.
“Last-minute changes like these have further eroded consumer confidence in overseas travel and serve as a reminder of the urgent need to introduce testing to bypass quarantines,” complained the British Travel Agencies Association.
World Tourism Organization figures released this week show a 70% drop in international arrivals worldwide during the first eight months of 2020, an estimated loss of $ 730 billion for an industry that threatens to exist.
The World Travel & Tourism Council is expected to warn of the disastrous impact on jobs in the sector, with millions missing globally “if global travel barriers remain”.
The UK government’s travel task force is expected to report on how the testing system will work in early November. “This system is very bad and needs to be replaced with a proper testing system,” said Charles.
Read more at thenationalherald.com
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