COVID19: 32,000 people to return to work as lockdown eases

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Thousands of more employees will return to work on Thursday as the second stage out of COVID-19 lockdown begins to get the Cyprus economy going.

From May 21, some 32,000 workers will be gradually going back to work, including around 5,500 staff at hair and beauty salons and 25,500 staff at restaurants and coffee shops due to reopen from Thursday.

Restaurants, pubs and cafes can resume business, welcoming back customers only if they have outdoor facilities.

The second stage of easing the lockdown will mean that people will no longer have to send out an SMS requesting permission to leave the house.

Some restrictions will still apply as people will not be allowed to lounge on beaches or go to a nearby swimming pool during the second stage.

Stage two of the easing is scheduled to last until June 8, moving on to the third stage depends on epidemiological data to see whether Cyprus is able to contain the virus.

In practice, stage two of easing the lockdown will see people able to visit parks, open-air playgrounds, squares, marinas, but there should be no more than 10 people gathered at one time.

Catering businesses will also be able to reopen but under strict protocols. Catering businesses include coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, taverns and pizza places.

Tattoo parlours will also be allowed to resume business.

Last but not least beauty and hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen.

As of 1 June, organised beaches will reopen, with people allowed to sunbathe again.

Ports are also to resume business, but without allowing passengers to disembark from cruise ships.

Libraries and museums are also opening their doors.

Betting shops can open on 1 June with 1,337 more staff returning to their posts at 548 outlets.

Religious worship also resumes at churches and mosques under social distancing rules.

The first easing of measures took place on May 4, with around 70,000 people employed in the public sector and some 18,000 businesses in the retail and construction sector going back to work.

Provided that new coronavirus cases are kept in check, stage three of easing the lockdown will begin on 9 June and is scheduled to last until July 13.

This will see malls and department stores reopening, while airports and airline companies are expected to gradually resume business, restaurants will be allowed to welcome clients in their indoor facilities.

Hotels will also be allowed to reopen along with gyms and outdoor cinemas and theatres.

Meanwhile, the government was set to launch another 10,000 free tests for people returning to work on 21 May.

Some 7,500 tests are offered to people employed in the catering sector, such as restaurants and pubs while another 2,500 tests will be offered to people working in tattoo parlours and hair salons.