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COVID19: Virtual lockdown spells nightmare before Christmas

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From Friday, Cyprus will be living a nightmare before Christmas as cafes and restaurants shut, shopping malls, cinemas close while churches stay empty during the busiest time of the year, normally.

A 9 pm curfew will not be relaxed, and although the dreaded SMS system won’t be reinstated, Cypriots having nowhere to go will be living in a virtual lockdown festive landscape.

Authorities have turned to a heavier version of ‘lockdown light’, after the measures did not pay off.

A nationwide curfew will apply between 9:00 pm and 5 am until December 31 while shopping malls, restaurants, bars, and cafes will close, and lyceum students will be taking online lessons.

Announcing the bad news on Wednesday, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said measures already impose would also be extended until December 31.

The Minister called on people to be patient and stick to measures announced, ahead of the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks.

“We need to hold on a few more months,” urged Ioannou.

“We do acknowledge that after 9 months fatigue has set in.

“We understand that this fatigue provokes a reaction and leads either to relaxation or non-compliance with the imposed measures, which in turn do not yield the expected results.

“This fatigue is not just a Cypriot phenomenon…endure a little longer, until vaccinations start,” said the Minister.

He said restrictive measures and bans can in no way be considered as a good outcome.

“But these measures are necessary, although sometimes unpleasant, aim to safeguard human lives. At this time, our health comes first.

“This is the priority that the State has set from the beginning of the pandemic,” said Ioannou

The list of measures in effect as of Friday until 31 December:

New Measures:

  1. The operation of restaurants, bars, pubs, tavernas, cafes, canteens and other hospitality venues is suspended, except for delivery and take-away services (After 9 pm only home delivery allowed). Catering establishments in hotels can stay open until 9 pm but only for residents.
  2. Church and other religious ceremonies are to be held without churchgoers.
  3. Lyceum students will continue their education online. Kindergartens, Elementary Schools and Gymnasiums continue as normal.
  4. The operation of outdoor and indoor theatres, amphitheatres, cinemas, and event halls is suspended.
  5. The operation of shopping malls is suspended.
  6. All group educational tutoring, as well as sports and social activities for children under 18, is prohibited. Online lessons and one to one tutoring are allowed.

Earlier Measures that stay in place:

  1. A curfew between 9 pm. until 5 a.m. except in the following cases. People going to work, or a hospital. Also excluded are hunters after 3 am.
  2. Gatherings in public places (parks, squares, dams, picnic areas, beaches, and marinas) are allowed, if they do not exceed two people, excluding underaged children.
  3. Just 10 people are allowed at household gatherings, including children.
  4. It is forbidden to hold events for weddings and baptisms except for a household gathering, with up to 10 people, including children
  5. Funeral, weddings, baptisms can only have a maximum of 10 people in attendance.
  6. Visits to hospitals, clinics, medical and diagnostic centres are prohibited.
  7. Open-air markets can operate at 50% of capacity, but customers need to keep a distance of 1.5m between them.
  8. Ban on mass gatherings, demonstrations, parades, concerts, open-air festivals, Christmas bazaars, festivals on public or private premises.
  9. The capacity of public transport will be regulated by the Minister of Transport.
  10. The rest of the retail sector can operate, including supermarkets and department stores over 500 square meters, but allowed one customer for every 10 square metres.
  11. The operation of gyms, dance schools and other sports facilities is suspended. Personal training (one-to-one) is allowed.
  12. Betting shops can remain open but without allowing customers to stay within the premises after they have placed their bet. Again, one customer for every 10 sqm will be allowed.
  13. The operation of casinos is suspended.
  14. Suspension of swimming pools, except for the use by persons with disabilities who need to use the facility for therapeutic exercise. Only groups of up to 4, including the trainer, is allowed in the pool.
  15. Fitness centres, swimming pools and spas in hotels can open for residents.
  16. Limassol and Larnaca ports will run only for commercial activities. It is forbidden for passengers of cruise ships to disembark.
  17. Suspension of training and competitive sports events for under-18s
  18. Supermarkets will cater exclusively to over 65s and people with disabilities up to 9 am.
  19. The operation of nightclubs, discos, and other dance venues are suspended.
  20. Playgrounds, amusement parks and theme parks closed.
  21. Suspension of conferences, trade exhibitions and events.
  22. No visits to nursing homes, hostels for vulnerable groups, half-way homes for the homeless, child protection facilities, except for extremely necessary cases.
  23. Camping sites closed.
  24. No entry allowed to refugee reception centres.