Cyprus seems likely to become the first country in the Mediterranean to allow unrestricted access to British tourists who’ve been vaccinated against Covid.
The Cypriot government says it hopes to allow British visitors back from April, with no testing or quarantine for those who’ve had two doses of the Covid vaccine.
The second dose must have been administered at least seven days before their visit, it says.
Covid testing will probably be reintroduced for those who haven’t been vaccinated. Children under 12 are likely to be exempt.
This news will no doubt lead to a spike in interest in holidays to Cyprus this summer, especially among vaccinated parents of young children, older travellers and others who’ve already had the jab.
It might be especially welcomed by health care and other front line workers who, God knows, deserve a break and should have received both doses of the vaccine before the summer.
But don’t rush to book just yet.
Even if you expect to be fully vaccinated by April, there’s still the UK overseas travel ban to consider. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this might be lifted on 17 May, but that isn’t certain.
Also, it’s not yet clear how you’ll prove you’ve been vaccinated. The UK Government has flip-flopped over plans to introduce vaccination certificates so at the moment they don’t exist.
Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi has suggested we’ll be able to ask our GPs for proof we’ve had both jabs, but this hasn’t been confirmed.
And then there’s the Covid situation in Cyprus to consider. While the country has suffered relatively few cases of the disease, there has been a recent increase in the number of positive tests, according to the Cyprus Mail.
The number of cases is especially high in Limassol, one of its main holiday resorts, which has recently sunk well into the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s ‘red zone’.
Limassol accounts for 68% of new cases reported in Cyprus, which has a total of 263 cases per 100,000 of population. Last year countries including the UK were inclined to ban travel to destinations with more than 25 cases per 100,0000.
What will happen when you return to the UK?
Before booking any holiday you need to consider the possibility that you might need to take multiple Covid tests to return to the UK, even if you’ve been vaccinated.
You might also need to quarantine, either at home or in a Government-approved hotel for 10 days.
At the moment, everyone returning to the UK must have a negative Covid test taken no more than three days before their journey.
You must also quarantine at home for up to 10 days and take two more Covid tests, one on or before day two of your arrival and the other on or after day eight.
Under the Test to Release scheme, if you have a negative test after day five you can end your quarantine early, but you still have to take another test on day eight. All the tests are at your own expense.
And if you return from a country on the Government’s red list, you’ll need to pay £1,750 for hotel quarantine. The Government has made it clear that countries might be added or removed from the list at short notice.
While these restrictions might be lifted once the travel ban is removed, this isn’t guaranteed.
I think you need to consider all of the above and only book if you can afford the multiple tests and both the potential cost and time to quarantine in the UK.