COVID19: Complacency forces new measures to combat coronavirus, stricter in Limassol

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Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou (right) and national health advisor Dr Leontios Kostrikis address a press conference on the latest developments regarding the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

People will have to wear masks in busy indoor spaces such as supermarkets, stores and banks as part of new stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus or will be subject to a €300 fine, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced on Friday.

The minister said that the mandatory use of masks in busy indoor areas will be enforced from Friday midnight, while announcing that a number of restrictive measures will be reintroduced in Limassol, where a cluster has formed. Children aged six and up will also need to wear a mask.

The measures were decided after 13 new Covid-19 cases were announced on Wednesday, the highest daily tally since April 28, and another 10 on Thursday. Out of the 23 cases recorded on those two days, 15 were in Limassol.

Ioannou said, after a meeting with the national health advisory group at the presidential palace, that he and the justice minister gave new strict instructions to the police and local authorities to enforce the regulations following a relaxation observed by both the public and services, as regards inspections.

“We are among the few countries in the world to have successfully tackled the pandemic,” the minister said, acknowledging the public contribution in stemming the spread of the virus by adhering to decrees and measures.

However, he noted that “the lifting of many restrictions has led to a lot of people ignoring the personal safety regulations and social distancing,” while adding those who should have been self-isolating did not do so.

As a result, the health minister said that a number of measures, like the obligatory use of a mask, needed to be enforced, while in the case of Limassol restrictions on mass gatherings will be reintroduced.

As of Friday midnight, in the Limassol district, not more than ten people can be present at any social gathering, while a ceiling of 75 people in indoor and 150 in outdoor catering facilities is reintroduced.

A maximum of 75 people will be allowed in Limassol’s churches. Measures in the district will be in place for three weeks.

Ioannou also said that the relaxation of measures for large-scale events (weddings, concerts, etc.) that had been planned for September 15, will now also be pushed further back.

Meanwhile, the minister said that the country’s health authorities will be increasing random tests at airports to 1000 a day from 600 for SARS-CoV-2. Passengers will be selected randomly to be tested at the airport, regardless if they have had the test prior to boarding their flight to Cyprus.

He also said that modes of public transport in Limassol will be operating half empty as they will be allowed to carry passengers up to 50% of their capacity.

Calling on the public to act responsibly and adhere to the new measures, Ioannou said that, “it is up to us to protect our health. I rely on the responsibility of every citizen. I address each of you personally and ask for your cooperation and help once again, with the certainty that we will all rise to the occasion.”