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Cyprus pledges to cover costs for virus-hit tourists

SeattlePI.com Wednesday, 27 May 2020
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus is pledging to cover all costs for anyone testing positive for the coronavirus while on vacation on the eastern Mediterranean island nation, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Cypriot government says it will cover lodging, food, drink and medication for COVID-19 patients and their families. Patients will only have to pay for the taxi ride to the airport and the flight back home.

A 100-bed hospital will cater exclusively to foreign travelers who test positive. About 112 intensive care units equipped with 200 respirators will be reserved for critically-ill patients. A 500-room “quarantine hotel” will be reserved for patients’ family members and other close contacts.

The pledge came in a five-page letter dated Tuesday that was sent out to governments, airlines and tour operators outlining strict health and hygiene protocols that the government is enacting to woo visitors to the tourism-reliant country.

Tourism directly accounts for 13% of Cyprus’ economy. This year, the country expects to lose as much as 70% of the 2.6 billion euros ($2.85 billion) in tourism-generated revenue.

The letter, signed by Cyprus’ foreign affairs, transport and tourism ministers, boasts that the country has one of the lowest coronavirus ratios per capita in Europe after having tested more than 10% of its population.

International air travel to Cyprus begins June 9, initially from 19 countries, with passengers required to undergo a COVID-19 test three days prior to departure. That measure will be lifted June 20 for 13 countries, including Germany, Finland, Israel, Greece and Norway.

Officials say travel will be expanded to more countries depending on a constant evaluation of their infection rates.

Passengers will...
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TIME Also reported by •SeattlePI.com

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