COVID19: Cyprus lockdown extended to March

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Cyprus has extended until March the current national lockdown imposed following a spike in COVID-19 cases after allowing some easing of restrictions in the last week.

A decision was taken to extend the national lockdown until at least the end of February by the cabinet on Wednesday, following advice from the ministerial committee managing the pandemic, the Health Ministry said.

For the next three weeks, the 9 pm-5 am curfew remains with people still limited to leaving their homes twice a day.

Retail shops have re-opened while home visits are allowed but limited to four people at any one time.

“Despite the improvement in epidemiological indicators, the ministerial committee examined the data taking into account the second phase (out of lockdown) was launched only on Monday with results to be evaluated in the coming weeks,” a ministry statement said.

Also taken into consideration were concerns over the new, more potent, variants of the virus, mainly the UK and South African strains.

With the UK strain found in Cyprus, the Health Ministry said there was consensus amongst ministers that lifting measures should be carried out cautiously and slowly.

Toward that end, the cabinet also approved the continuation of weekly rapid tests for employees to avoid outbreaks in workplaces.

Cyprus on Monday entered its second phase of lifting lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19, as more people returned to work, shops reopened, and over half of schools resumed classes.

Daily COVID-19 cases also dropped below three digits this week for the first time since last year.

At the start of February, 50% of staff were allowed back to work while 80,000 employees returned to work from Monday as the retail sector re-opened for business.

Cinemas and theatres which can host up to 50 people but, according to sources, cinemas will not open due to a lack of new releases.

Churchgoers are allowed to attend services, as long as they do not exceed 50 people at a time.

Betting shops also opened, but punters will only be allowed to place their bet and leave.

House visits have increased to four people at a time, up from two allowed a week ago.

Authorities have added the number 9 to the list of SMS requests sent to the portal 8998 for visits to hairdressers and beauticians.

Salons will require an appointment in advance. For house visits, the SMS number is 5.

People wanting to catch a play need to send an SMS with the number 9.

Outings to Troodos and other nature trails are still banned, as are social gatherings while hospitality venues remain shut.

The second national lockdown was imposed on 10 January when the entire retail sector was shut down, civil servants went home, and businesses reduced their on-site workforce to 20% after daily infections peaked at 907 on December 29.

Cyprus has confirmed 31,959 coronavirus cases and 214 deaths.