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COVID19: Confusion reigns over lockdown rules

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Much to the embarrassment of the government, the decree to lockdown Paphos and Limassol, entailing a travel ban and curfew, had to be postponed until Friday noon while confusion abounds over the restrictions.

A new set of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the districts of Limassol and Paphos, deemed as the virus hotspots, were announced by Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou following an address to the nation by President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday.

However, the decree itself was issued minutes before its Thursday 8 pm scheduled implementation which only led to confusion among the public and businesses demanding clarifications.

Media had received the decree from the Health Ministry well after 10 pm Thursday.

Delaying in implementation of the decree was to give people time to get the necessary paperwork done, allowing them to travel to and from the districts on lockdown.

According to reports, police had already set up roadblocks by late afternoon Thursday following the announcement of the extraordinary measure.

Negative reactions were also sparked by the government’s decision to involve the army in checks.

Residents of Limassol and Paphos will be under lockdown rules until November 30, a daily curfew will also be in effect from 8 pm to 5 am.

The decree specifies the circumstances under which people are exempt from the restrictions and can still travel to and from Limassol or Paphos.

Test needed

People exempted will also have to carry a coronavirus negative test, performed in the past seven days, the Health Ministry said.

This has triggered fierce criticism as a PCR test can cost up to €75.

A Health Ministry official said COVID tests for those working in the public sector would be paid for by the government but people working in the private sector must pay for their own tests.

People exempted from the ban have until 18 November to have their first coronavirus test, after such date police will also be asking people travelling to and from districts on lockdown to present proof that they are negative for the virus.

Amongst those exempted are truck drivers transporting finished goods or raw materials, but they must carry with them documentation signed by their employer.

Also exempted are persons who work at construction sites, oil facilities, in the food and agriculture industry or for companies manufacturing medicines.

Workers called in for emergency repairs of machinery are also allowed to travel.

Journalists are also exempted from the ban, as are people working in essential services such as the supply of electricity and water, the telecommunications sector and professions related to air transport and air traffic control, and the National Guard.

Travel is also allowed for those travelling to or from the Larnaca and Paphos airports, but they will have to carry proof of their flight, such as their flight ticket.

Also allowed are parcel deliveries and private security services between all districts.

Athletes and sports clubs competing either in the first division or for the national team may travel for training purposes or for competition.

Apart from the first division football championship, all other sporting events have been cancelled.

Buses and taxis may travel to, from and between districts with the relevant paperwork.

Divorced or separated parents may travel to and from Limassol and Paphos to visit their children, provided they carry the relevant court papers.