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COVID19: Cyprus closes for Christmas

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Cyprus is closing hospitality venues, shopping malls and banning church attendance over Christmas after recent interventions failed to curb a spike in coronavirus cases.

Light lockdown hasn’t worked so shopping malls, restaurants, bars and cafes will close while lyceum students will be taking online lessons.

And department stores can only allow in one customer for every 10 square metres.

The new measures will be enforced from December 11 until 31 December.

Measures which include a 9 pm lockdown introduced 10 days ago have failed to put a stop to the second wave of infections which topped 419 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

Tuesday was also the deadliest day since the pandemic started, with five deaths, with December headed to be the worst month to date.

The new measures were presented on Wednesday by Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou following an emergency cabinet meeting.

Ioannou said that when the government had announced the last package of measures on November 27, they had left a window open for a partial de-escalation over the holiday season

“We warned of the possibility of introducing tougher measures if there was a deterioration of epidemiological data.

“The data we have in front of us does not leave us many options.”

He said the authorities are concerned over the continuing increase in the “positivity rate” recorded by rapid antigen diagnostic tests throughout the island.

According to data presented by the government’s advisors, the percentage of rapid tests returning a positive result is 3.1% almost double what it was a week before.

“Results of these tests show that the virus is everywhere, in all cities, villages, districts. We want to suppress its further spread before it is too late.

“For this reason, our effort will be extended to indoor areas, which pose a higher degree of risk.”

Only businesses providing take away and delivery services will be allowed to operate.

Due to the 9 pm curfew remaining in place, catering facilities will only be able to offer deliveries after that time.

Religious services will be conducted without the presence of churchgoers except for weddings, baptisms and funerals, with a maximum of 10 people allowed.

As of Monday 14 December, lyceum students will begin education online with younger students continuing their education in class.

Under-18s sporting activities continue to be banned while private tutorial centres will also close from December 14.

Data presented by Dr George Nikolopoulos showed a great increase of cases in Famagusta, while Larnaca and Nicosia are of high concern.

The 14-day cumulative notification rate for Famagusta has risen to 613,5 per 100,000 inhabitants from 452.3 in the previous study released a week ago.

Cases in Nicosia are also increasing dangerously as the capital now has a 14-day cumulative notification rate of 475,1 per 100,000 up from 335.1.

Larnaca data has also increased to 412.1 from 376, while Paphos is last with just 140.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, up from 123.

Limassol is second with a 14-day cumulative notification rate of per 100,000, 273.5 down from 428.7.

With the exemption of Paphos, all districts are far above the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s benchmark 150 per 100,000.