COVID19: Big weddings, festivals remain on ice

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Cyprus health authorities told mass event organisers of weddings, concerts and festivals to hold-off for now as a date for lifting COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings has been delayed post-September.

Big event organisers were told earlier in June, by Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, that mass events would be allowed from 1 September, however, mass gatherings may be pushed down the line.

In a statement, the Health Ministry on Wednesday said the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Acting Director (ECDC) estimate that events with the participation of large crowds pose an extremely increased threat of transmitting the virus in the community.

Such events are considered as super spreaders when it comes to viruses such as the coronavirus.

“Therefore, holding such events where many people gather and the observance of hygiene and social distancing is impossible, are prohibited,” the ministry said.

It said such large events make the process of tracing contacts and of controlling the virus transmission extremely difficult.

Both agencies, it added,  also speak of “a high risk of derailment of the situation in countries which have a good epidemiological picture, such as Cyprus, given that for the time being there is no vaccine available against COVID-19, nor pharmaceutical treatment”.

“As recommended…the possibility of lifting restrictions on mass and social events should be considered after September.”

The Health Ministry urges people and organisers alike not to plan such events from September 1 “as a final decision has not been taken”.

“Cyprus has followed from the beginning the recommendations of competent organisations and moved ahead with a targeted and slow lifting of restrictive measures.

“In order to keep up the good epidemiological data, we must all assume our individual and collective responsibility and behave accordingly, respecting the rules.”

Since the first two cases of COVID-19 were identified on March 9 there have been 1,040 cases reported with only 19 deaths.

Currently, weddings and other social gatherings can host up to 75 people in an indoor facility and 150 outdoors.