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COVID19: Shops open, curfew stays

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From 1 February Cyprus will allow gradual relaxation of lockdown measures following a fall in COVID-19 infections, including the reopening of primary schools and shopping malls.

The island has been in a strict lockdown since Jan. 10 after a spike in COVID-19 cases and the detection of a more contagious variant of the virus first identified in Britain.

Bans on large gatherings and the closure of shopping centres and restaurants were announced in December.

“We want to avoid any rash and risky action which might undermine the effort to resume social and economic activity,” Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told a news briefing Wednesday.

Authorities will permit the reopening of hairdressers and beauty salons on February 1, allow up to 50% of staff to return to work in the service sector and permit limited family gatherings.

Malls, large department stores, and primary schools will reopen a week later, on February 8.

Churches will also reopen for worship after that date, with a maximum of 50 people in attendance.

Cyprus had seen new COVID cases occasionally exceed 500 a day in mid-December but that has now fallen to below 200 daily for about a week.

As of Tuesday, Cyprus had recorded a total of 30,252 COVID cases since the start of the pandemic, with 190 deaths.

Ioannou said an improved epidemiological picture, allowed for some relaxations, but high numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospital made the government cautious.

He said the lifting of measures would be a “very slow, coordinated, and controlled process, allowing authorities to monitor and respond to any outbreaks”.

A 9 pm curfew and a ban on restaurants, bars, and cafes, as well as cinemas and theatres, will remain until at least February 15, when the first phase of exiting lockdown ends.

From February 1

  • Elementary and final-year high school students will return to class.
  • Remote learning for the rest including University students.
  • Businesses can have 50% of their staff present, up from 25%
  • Hairdressers, barbershops, and beauty parlours can reopen.
  • Businesses must ensure a minimum of 20% of their staff physically present is tested weekly.
  • House visits allowed, two people per household, only first or second-degree relatives.
  • People wanting to visit their relatives will need to send in an SMS with indication 5.

From February 8

  • All retail shops will be reopening, including shopping malls and department stores.
  • A maximum of 50 churchgoers will be allowed to attend a service.
  • House visits will be increased to four people at a time.
  • Betting shops can only to accept bets from customers.
  • Museums, archaeological sites can open.

Measures still enforced

  • People will still only be allowed to leave their home twice a day.
  • Hospitality closed until further notice, takeaways, or delivery only.
  • Gyms stay shut until March.
  • Grassroots sporting activities banned.
  • One to one training can take place outdoors.
  • SMS requests needed to leave the house, visits to hairdressers, retail shops added.
  • Ban on access to nature trails.
  • Curfew from 9 pm to 5 am
  • Remote learning
  • Cinemas, theatres closed
  • Social gatherings banned