Around 300 people stranded in the UK and Greece contacted the Foreign Ministry and asked for their repatriation to Cyprus, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the “Zenon” Coordination Centre, in Larnaca, Karousos said that a decree banning all incoming flights to Larnaca and Paphos airports from March 21, 2020, at 3.00 am (local time) onwards, will be issued on Thursday.
Incoming flights with no passengers will be allowed, in order to carry passengers out of Cyprus, the Minister added.
According to Karousos, the flight ban to Cypriot airports will be universal, in order to implement Cabinet measures against the spread of COVID-19.
Asked whether the government is going to charter flights, in order to repatriate Cypriots stranded abroad, the Minister said that they are in touch with the Foreign Ministry to receive the contact details of citizens who fall within the categories allowed to come back until March 21. “We will take appropriate measures, depending on official results” Karousos added.
He also noted that they are in contact with several airliners to charter flights for their repatriation if deemed necessary.
Karousos said that stranded passengers who went abroad for medical reasons, short holidays or on business trips, are a priority.
Asked about the number of people who applied for repatriation, Karousos said that at this moment there are more than 300 applications. Most of them concern people in the UK, with over 200 cases, while another 80 passengers are in Greece, he added.
The Minister of Transport said that these people may return to Cyprus through scheduled flights before the universal flight ban enters into force, on Saturday.
After that, we will see how we are going to handle the issue, depending on the applications in front of us, the Minister concluded.
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