Government ministers on Thursday mapped out the path that Cyprus will follow until mid-July to end the strict lockdown that the country has been under since the outbreak almost two months ago.
Construction sites and retail shops will open next week, restriction on free movement ends on May 21 and open-air cafes and restaurants can serve customers.
Meanwhile, gyms and airports will begin operating from 9 June under strict guidelines to be announced.
So far only those in their final year at of school are allowed to return to class.
Following President Anastasiades’ address to the nation on Wednesday, where he gave the outlines for the first two stages for relaxing the lockdown, government ministers gave further details on Thursday morning.
The Health, Finance and Labour ministers presented the roadmap in detail.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou mapped out the general outline and guidelines.
The first stage which will see a significant number of businesses reopening on Monday, but businesses must comply with specific hygiene and distancing rules to prevent a spike in coronavirus cases.
The construction sector and associated businesses are to resume work on 4 May, as do retail shops with the exception of malls and department stores.
Open-air markets are also part of the first stage of the easing of the lockdown.
Ioannou stressed that companies must implement the distancing rule of eight metres for every employee, provide staff with hand sanitizer and make sure that surfaces are kept clean.
Employees who come into contact with the public in the private and public sector must wear face masks.
For the general public, the use of masks is recommended but not mandatory, when visiting shops or public services.
The minister said that people considered vulnerable for health reasons will be protected from exposure to the virus and will be allowed to work from home.
The road map to lifting all restrictions introduced will be carried out in four stages – 17 days apart – as follows:
The first stage from May 4:
- The construction sector will be opened up and all restrictions in related sectors will be lifted.
- All retail businesses will reopen, with the exception of department stores and malls.
- Open-air markets and bazaars will reopen.
- Travel agencies will reopen.
- Car wash facilities can reopen
Restrictions on Movement
- People will be allowed out of their homes three times a day, up from one, provided they receive permission via SMS. Movement between towns is not allowed.
- The curfew now starts at 10 pm, lasts until 6 am.
- People may attend places of worship, provided the number of people does not exceed 10. Large weddings, funerals and christenings are still forbidden.
- Social visits will still be forbidden
- Exercising outdoors and swimming in the sea for exercise will be allowed without people needing to send in an SMS
- All workers from the public sector will return to work.
- Those belonging to vulnerable groups or who have children to look after (aged 15 or under) are exempt and will work from home. Parents with children with any kind of disability are also included in this category.
- Courts can resume activities
- Ban on visitations remains
- Hospitals will reassume taking care of cold cases with a ceiling of 60% ward occupancy
- Dental clinics reopen
- Outpatient clinics reopen but will be operating by appointment only
- Public hospitals will be upgraded to provide greater availability for COVID-19 incidents.
From May 11:
Students in their final school year can go back to class.
Second stage from May 21:
- All restrictions on movement will be lifted if the scientific data allows
- People can go to parks, play areas, squares, marinas and other open spaces provided they are not in groups of over 10.
- Barbershops and hairdressers may reopen.
- Cafes and restaurants with outdoor facilities can reopen.
From June 1:
- People may go to the beach.
- Ports can reopen but without allowing people disembarking from cruise ships.
- Museums, libraries and archaeological sites can reopen.
- Betting shops can open.
Third stage from 9 June
- Reopening of Malls/ department stores
- Airports/ airlines will gradually reopen under strict conditions
- Ports will be allowed to service cruise ships
- indoors and outdoors catering at restaurants and cafes
- Hotels can reopen
- Organised beaches are to reopen, provided distance rules are adhered to
- Open-air theatres and cinemas
- Sports fixtures (no fans)
- Summer programmes for private tertiary education-
Fourth stage from 14 July
- Theatres and indoor cinemas reopen
- Festivals and concerts allowed
- All children’s play areas can reopen.
The Health Minister said that he believes: “Together, we will move forward and not take steps backwards. It is in our hands to exit the crisis with the least possible losses”.