Border crossings in divided Cyprus to partially re-open

Six out of the nine border crossings between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus in the southern part of the island and the northern third under Turkish control with the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) had been closed since late February as part of both authorities’ efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Cyprus government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos announced that Turkish Cypriots who work, study or receive medical care in the Greek part will be permitted to cross through vehicle crossing points along the buffer zone between the two parts as of June 8.

Cyprus had unilaterally closed four crossings on February 28, leading to protests among the Greek populace as well as the Turks. On February 29, a group of Greek Cypriots crossed into the U.N.-controlled buffer zone to call for a united federal Cyprus, together with Turkish Cypriots who did the same.

The Turkish side closed two border crossings on March 12, after the fifth confirmed case of COVID-19 in the island, and shut down all travel to and from the island two days later.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades contacted Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı regarding the border crossings after the stay-at-home order and nighttime curfew in the south expired on May 21.

The gradual easing of coronavirus measures in the island had started on Monday, and the government has since urged the voluntary use of a contact tracing app for smart phones.