COVID19: Cabinet to review restrictions over Christmas

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The cabinet on Tuesday will assess whether measures in place to contain coronavirus can be relaxed during Christmas and New Year, allowing for muted festivities to take place.

Ministers had said when imposing a mini-lockdown, which saw shopping malls, restaurants and churches close that they could relax measures over the festive period if COVID-19 cases recorded a significant drop.

But the spike in infections has not subsided since the mini-lockdown was introduced on December 11.

The cabinet meets on Tuesday to decide on whether measures which include a 9 pm curfew should be eased during the holidays or stay in place until December 31.

Tighter restrictions – such as household gatherings limited to 10 people – could be lifted but this is unlikely

With daily COVID-19 cases on the rise with a record 457 confirmed on Thursday, authorities face a dilemma over whether they should allow people to congregate at churches and celebrate at hospitality venues.

Authorities have come under pressure from retailers across Cyprus to reopen their shutdown businesses.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II will meet President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday to request churches open for the Christmas Day service.

On Sunday, leader of the Orthodox Church said that in general, the church is on the same page with the government, noting that even stricter measures could be needed.

“We are not objecting; we will stand by the government. We will even be stricter than the Government. This should not prevent the mass from taking place with the participation of churchgoers.

“Our request is that churches are allowed to open on Christmas Day for the faithful,” said the Archbishop.

Lockdown measures in place include a 9 pm curfew with restaurants, bars, and cafés, as well as cinemas and theatres remaining shut until the New Year due to the coronavirus surge in recent weeks.

Cyprus reported two more deaths on Sunday, hours after it announced stricter measures for passengers arriving from Britain, while the number of new COVID-19 cases dropped significantly to 242.

The 242 new SARS-CoV-2 cases were somewhat less than the average 300-400 daily count throughout the past week, significantly below Saturday’s 419 and nearly half the record 457 announced on December 17.

With two weeks to spare, December is already Cyprus’ deadliest month since the pandemic started in March with the death toll from COVID-19 at 40.

According to the latest national surveillance report on coronavirus, 40 people of the 91 COVID-19 deaths, died in the first 20 days of December.

The total number of infections since the coronavirus outbreak back in March now stands at 17,718.