Greek, Cypriot leaders expected to visit Israel to discuss resuming flights
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Greek, Cypriot leaders expected to visit Israel to discuss resuming flights

Reported visits to Jerusalem would be among the first for senior foreign officials since the start of the pandemic

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C) and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis shake hands in Athens on January 2, 2020, ahead of the signing of an agreement for the EastMed pipeline project designed to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe. (Aris Messins/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C) and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis shake hands in Athens on January 2, 2020, ahead of the signing of an agreement for the EastMed pipeline project designed to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe. (Aris Messins/AFP)

The leaders of Greece and Cyprus are expected to visit Israel later this month to discuss renewing flights between the countries after they were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will arrive on June 16 to discuss restarting tourism, as well as tensions with Turkey over gas drilling in the Mediterranean, Hebrew media reports said Wednesday.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to follow on June 23 for talks on tourism and other joint interests.

Both leaders will likely be accompanied by a number of ministers.

The visits would be the first trips to Israel by a foreign leader since the start of the outbreak. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Jerusalem last month for the first public visit by a senior foreign official.

Greece announced last week that it would allow tourists from Israel to enter the country as of June 15, while Israeli travelers will be allowed into Cyprus beginning June 9.

Israel has not yet given a date for when it will again allow non-nationals into the country.

Sunbathers sit on an empty stretch of ‘Landa’ beach at the Cyprus seaside resort of Ayia Napa, a favorite among tourists, May 10 2020. (Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Along with citizens from 12 other countries, Israelis traveling to Cyprus will be required to produce health certificates declaring them coronavirus-free.

Tourism officials in Cyprus, an east Mediterranean island nation, are counting June 20 as the real start of the tourist season. That’s when the health certificate requirement for passengers from those countries is dropped and flights from six more countries will be permitted.

The Cypriot government has pledged to cover all costs for anyone testing positive for the coronavirus while on vacation.

The government said 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.

The government in Cyprus announced Wednesday that starting June 9, shopping malls, airports, the interior seating of hotels, bars and restaurants, and open-air theaters and cinemas will be back in business. Sports events, minus spectators; kindergartens; playgrounds; summer schools; and school canteens also are set to reopen on that date.

The country’s casinos, dance schools, gyms, and theme and water parks open their doors four days later, according to the government’s schedule.

A 10-person limit on public gatherings will stay in effect at least until June 24.

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