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COVID19: Cyprus unveils social restrictions until January

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Cyprus has unveiled its roadmap of restrictions for weddings, christenings and other mass events that will last until January in an attempt to put the lid back on COVID-19 cases.

President Nicos Anastasiades convened a cabinet meeting at the Troodos on Friday to decide on several measures that will remain in place until 15 January 2021.

The meeting was called following concerns from the Health Ministry and experts advising the government who wanted a stronger approach against COVID-19, following its resurgence.

After the meeting, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou called for the public’s understanding and cooperation.

“The effort must continue until the risk is eliminated entirely, which will only happen with a vaccine, something that is not expected to happen over the next few months”

Ioannou announced restrictions on social gatherings, weddings, and other crowd-drawing events such as festivals, fetes, and concerts.

There is a limit of 50 people on social gatherings in homes and other spaces of private or public use.

That number increases to 350 guests for dinner at weddings and christenings while the traditional greeting of the couple at these events should not see more than 250 people per hour passing through.

Restaurants and other catering establishments are limited to 150 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.

Concerts, festivals and fetes in stadiums, parks, church courtyards and streets are banned while exceptions include open-air amphitheatres that operate on specific health protocols.

Ioannou said travellers who test negative at the airport will be encouraged to have a repeat test seven days later, even if their initial test was negative.

People coming in from category C are legally bound to repeat the test 48 hours before their quarantine ends.

“Those who experience symptoms within their first week of return should talk to their doctor sooner,” said Ioannou.

There will also be regular additional mass testing, 5,000 every two weeks, targeted at younger people aged 18-40 and crowded places.

Meanwhile, students will be going back to school wearing face masks.

The health minister also addressed the vaccine situation, clarifying that COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered free of charge.

“Our country’s epidemiological data is perceived to be satisfactory with the situation being under control at the current phase, but the situation remains volatile around the world and does not allow complacency.”

He noted that extensive testing and tracing, the timely isolation of cases along with a horizontal application of health protocols are the key tools Cyprus has at the moment while waiting for a vaccine.

Ioannou said that Cyprus was pleased with the agreement between AstraZeneca and the European Union for the pre-purchase of coronavirus vaccines.

“We are pleased to announce that Cyprus is also part of this agreement…Cyprus will have equal access to innovative treatments, namely the vaccine against the virus, regardless of the country’s size.”