COVID19: Cyprus to approve road map for lifting lockdown

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Nicosia is expected to announce the gradual lifting of restrictive measures introduced to stem the spread of the coronavirus as of 4 May, following a number of EU countries who are also doing the same.

President Nicos Anastasiades is meeting his cabinet on Wednesday to approve a four-stage plan tabled by the coronavirus task force with the advice of the epidemiological committee.

With some uncertainty as cases on Tuesday edged back up to two-digit figures reaching 15, after almost a week of remaining within the single-digit range, health authorities and the government feel confident about relaxing measures.

Member of the epidemiological committee, Dr Leontios Kostrikis, announcing Tuesday’s results said they have already given the green light to the government to go ahead with relaxing measures.

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the economy have warned that Cyprus has reached is the fiscal capability to function with a closed economy.

Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said last week it is vital the Cyprus economy gradually gets back to business as usual, otherwise bankruptcy will not be far behind.

In an interview with state broadcaster CyBC, Petrides said: “The important thing is for the economy to start producing because otherwise, the risk of bankruptcy is visible”.

Petrides spoke of a global economic shock, emphasizing that all states are facing a deep recession, with the main character being a serious crisis in demand.

He argued if the economy goes bust, the country’s healthcare system will collapse, which will, in turn, cost more lives.

Opening up the economy and lifting restrictions on free movement will begin on 4 May, with each new stage to be introduced after two weeks from the previous one if numbers of new daily COVID-19 cases do not spike.

One stage at a time

Health experts back a gradual lifting of measures, as daily cases have mostly remained in the single-digit range for a week.

Officials have said during the last few days, restrictions will be lifted gradually with the government evaluating each relaxation every 15 days before moving on to the next phase.

The first phase is to see construction sites reopening with maybe barbers and hairdressers reopening under tight controls.

If hair salons are not included in the first stage, they are to be included in the second phase, which is expected around May 25.

Some reports say that the high school students attending their final year will also be returning to class.

This phase will also see sports teams allowed to return to training at the end of May, while thoughts are being given to reopening gyms, however, the views on this issue differ.

As far as restrictions on free movement are concerned, people will be allowed to exit their homes more than once a day.

Some reports say that the curfew is to remain in place but will start an hour later, that is at 10 pm.

The second phase could also see children returning to kindergartens, although, depending on epidemiological data.

In the third phase, cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels and possibly churches are expected to open.

In the final stage, some commercial flights will be allowed from countries with low COVID-19 cases while crossing points are expected to reopen.

Lifting of all measures is to be completed sometime in July.

Cyprus introduced its first restrictive measures on 11 March, a few days after the first two coronavirus cases were recorded on 9 March.

Since then a curfew has been imposed, all non-essential businesses closed, people only allowed outside once a day with a commercial flight ban imposed until mid-May.

The Cyprus Republic has reported 837 coronavirus cases and 15 deaths.