In a national address on Wednesday night, the Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said the government was obliged to take tough decisions for stricter measures as the island was no exception to Europe’s second coronavirus wave, before the health minister stepped in to outline the new measures that come into effect on Thursday.
The health minister Constantinos Ioannou said that “when we decided last May to gradually restart society and the economy, we made it clear that we must continue to adhere to the measures in place in order to control the transmission of the virus,” noting that today, it is clear that that the ideal scenario did not come about, leading the government to decide on a new string of restriction measures.
“For the planning of the measures,” Ioannou said, “in addition to the psychological and social factors, the epidemiological data before us were taken into account, and especially the geographical distribution of cases. Due to the small size of Cyprus, it is not possible to limit the spread to the degree we would like to see, as the spread from one district to another is an easy feat.”
Moreover, Ioannou said, the new measures tackle specific activities which are deemed riskier in terms of the transmission of the virus.
Ioannou said the new restrictions are divided into three categories:
Category A. Medium-term measures to be enforced islandwide from November 5, 2020 until January 15, 2021
1. The 50% capacity rule regulating the operation of indoor and outdoor cinemas and theaters continues to apply.
2. Conferences, assemblies and/or events in indoor conference halls are permitted, with the maximum number of participants set at 250, given each person keeps a distance of 3 square metres from the next, regardless of the size of the space. Food and beverages cannot be distributed during the events, while breaks are prohibited.
3. Beverage and food retail companies (supermarkets, mini-markets, butchers, etc.) and pharmacies, must only serve people over 65 and disabled groups from their opening time until 9am, and from 1pm until 2pm.
4. The use of a mask by the general population, aged 12 and over, remains mandatory indoors and outdoors, in accordance with the instructions issued by the health ministry.
5. Weddings and baptisms: from November 13, 2020 until January 15, 2021, cocktail parties and congratulations during weddings and baptisms are prohibited. Attendees can only participate in a lunch or dinner, to be attended by a maximum of 150, while no more than six people can be sat at a table.
Category B. Extraordinary measures in force on a nationwide basis from November 5 until November 30:
1. Gatherings at homes or public spaces are permitted, and can feature a maximum of 10 persons per house/group, including minors.
2. Food and drink spots must close by 10:30pm. This rule applies to restaurants, restaurants within malls, hotels, and other tourist accommodations, cafes, bars, snack bars, canteens, and so on. Delivery services can be provided after 10:30pm. Restaurants in the Larnaca and Paphos airports are excluded from the ban.
3. The maximum number of persons that can be served at food and drink spots is set at 75 persons indoors and 150 persons outdoors.
4. The maximum number of persons per reservation/table/group in restaurants and bars cannot exceed six people.
5. A curfew has been set from 11pm until 5am, while movement for emergency reasons (such as to and from the pharmacy or hospital) or for work purposes (subject to being able to present the relevant proof in the event of an inspection) is permitted.
6. Ecclesiastical and other forms of religious worship in churches, mosques and other religious sites, as well as religious ceremonies, can be attended by a maximum of 75 people, in accordance with the protocols applicable to places of religious worship.
7. Sports games can be held in sports facilities in the context of championships without the presence of spectators, provided that the relevant protocols are observed.
8. Childrens’ playareas will remain open, but will only be allowed to host 50 people indoors and 150 outdoors, while social distancing protocols must be followed. Events such as parties that will feature over 10 people are prohibited.
9. The use of locker rooms inside gyms is prohibited.
Category C. Extraordinary measures in force in the Limassol and Paphos districts from November 5 to November 16:
The health minister said that despite the recent stricter measures in place in the Limassol and Paphos districts, between October 17 and October 30, 420 people per 100,000 tested positive in Limassol, while 294 per 100,000 tested positive in Paphos.
Ioannou said these figures are almost triple those of the previous fortnight, indicating the need for even tougher measures in these districts.
1. All group sports and social activities of children under the age of 18 are prohibited (e.g. football, dance, swimming, martial arts, theater, choir, etc.).
2. Limassol and Paphos teams which are composed of athletes under the age of 18 cannot participate in sports matches.
3. The operation of all playgrounds, indoor and outdoor, is suspended.
4. The operation of gyms is suspended.
The health minister also issued a strong suggestion to businesses to enforce remote working strategies wherever possible to limit the spread of the virus at workplaces.
“We’re ready and we have a plan”
The health minister stressed that the island, and particularly Cyprus hospitals, are prepared to face rising numbers of coronavirus cases, but underlined that the healthcare system’s abilities are not limitless, and so we must ensure that it is safeguarded in order to be able to deal with the increasing number of carriers that will require treatment.
“Our concern was and remains the protection of vulnerable groups, of the friend with a transplant, of the neighbour with heart problems, of our grandparents, who are more likely to have a serious illness.”