The Cabinet announced on Friday that new pandemic rules will apply in August, including a greater number of shops out of reach for people without a Safe Pass and follow up rapid or PCR tests checks for foreign visitors who are not vaccinated.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela announced an extension and in some cases toughening of current measures, all set to go into effect on August 1.
The news came as the official number of daily infections was dropping, with signs of stabilization in all districts, according to the latest data in Cyprus’ National Surveillance Report.
But Hadjipantela, who spoke to reporters following a Cabinet meeting on Friday, warned that “the entire scientific community all around the world is crying out that unvaccinated persons are in more danger.”
“The only way to stop the onset of new aggressive stems is through vaccination. The only way to protect ourselves and those around us from the virus, the Delta mutation, and other possible variants that might come along, is to complete our vaccination schedule,” the minister said.
Hadjipantela then went down a list of changes in current measures which were being extended through the end of August.
Thou Shall Not Pass
The minister said a Safe Pass requirement currently in place for business establishments, where up to 20 persons including employees could gather at any time, was being changed to apply to locations up to 10 persons, effectively shortening the list of stores accessible without a Safe Pass.
A Safe Pass will also be required of everyone aged 12 and above who is a patient or visitor, as well as staff in hospitals and clinics. In senior homes and other closed structures, proof of recovery from Covid up to 180 days prior or a negative PCR test valid for 72 hours may also be used instead of a Safe Pass.
Foreign visitors including non-resident aliens who are admitted into the Republic of Cyprus through a Port of Entry will be required to have a repeat PCR or rapid test after their first week of stay. An exception will be made for people in this category who are either vaccinated or have recovered from the virus up to 180 days prior, with the minister saying these individuals won’t have to do follow up tests.
The latest measures also include provisions for state-funded rapid tests for people who have a document proving recovery from Covid within the last 6 months.
Vaccinations for youths aged 12 and above will also begin on Monday on a voluntary basis, where vaccines of mRNA technology, such as Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, can be administered with parental or guardian consent.
Health experts have debated whether and when high school students ought to get jabbed, with the jury still out on the issue at policy level. But officials pointed out that preparations were needed ahead of the start of the school year, citing other countries going forward with inoculating children ages 12 through 15.