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COVID19: Cyprus gambles on ‘lockdown light’

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Cyprus on Friday announced it would lift partial lockdowns in Limassol and Paphos while introducing a uniform curfew regime from November 30 to curb a spike in coronavirus cases.

While a travel ban for Limassol and Paphos is lifted on Monday, and shops allowed to reopen, the entire island will be under tighter measures when a 9 pm curfew comes into effect.

Restaurants, cafes, pubs, and other catering businesses will have to close at 7 pm, with only food delivery allowed after this time.

Paphos and Limassol is currently under an 8 pm to 5 am daily curfew while it starts at 11 pm for the rest of the country while hospitality outside the two hotspots closes at 10.30 pm.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced that gyms, swimming pools and after school sports activities for children will also be out of action for a fortnight (until December 14).

“We understand that there is fatigue amongst the public and the situation calls for endurance. However, we will only be able to return to normality once a large part of the population is vaccinated.”

Shopping Malls and department stores will be allowed to operate across the island but restricted to one customer for every 10 square meters of usable space.

It is understood that this would mean that small stores with less than 10 square meters would have to close.

Only up to 10 people are allowed to gather in households, including minors.

Gatherings in public places like parks and squares, reservoirs, picnic areas, beaches, marinas, are banned, as are protests.

Places of worship will remain open with a maximum number of 75 people where applicable while weddings, christenings, funerals can only be held with a maximum of 10 people.

Presenting the measures on Friday, Ioannou said the government had found itself in “an awkward position” especially as cases hadn’t come down far enough.

Ioannou argued the measures aim at protecting the health system which has come under significant strain in the past weeks.

“Almost half of all deaths recorded (48 in total) since the pandemic was recorded in November.

“This is a negative development which forces us to look for ways to stop new outbreaks,” said Ioannou.

“Cyprus did not opt for a second lockdown, unlike other EU countries, as we would like to keep the lockdown measure as a last resort”.

He said an improvement of the epidemiological situation during the next two weeks would see a relaxation from December 14 and January 7 with certain exemptions during the holidays.

Ioannou said if the situation improves the night-time curfew will roll back to 11 pm and restaurants and bars allowed to remain open until 10.30 pm.

On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, catering facilities can stay open until 12.30 am and the curfew will begin at 2 am until 6 am.

During the festive holidays, from 14 December to 7 January, up to 15 people can gather in homes.

“I ask for your understanding and help. This year’s festive season will be different than other years, we may be deprived of loved ones.

“But we need to stay focused on protecting the Health System…Let us give this Christmas to the people we love,” said Ioannou.