The government has put an end to any hopes of restaurants, cafés and bars opening any time before mid-March, with the Health Minister warning that lifting of such lockdown measures would lead to a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Philenews quoted Constantinos Ioannou as telling scientific advisors on Tuesday night that the government will not consent to food and drink establishments opening on March 1, and that the authorities are adamant on keeping the night curfew and limiting leaving homes to twice a day.
A second lockdown was imposed on January 10 after new daily coronavirus cases soared to 907 on December 29, but relaxed some measures in early February by allowing shops to re-open and employees to return to work, in the public service and the private sector.
However, workplaces are enforcing a minimum 20% of their staff to be tested on a weekly basis, or they won’t be allowed back to work, even in schools. Only elementary pupils and high school graduating students are back in class, with on ongoing debate when the rest of the gymnasium and lyceum students will return.
The current restrictions expire on March 1, with many hoping they would be able to celebrate ‘tsiknopempti’ feast and enjoy the carnival parades in all towns.
Ioannou was quoted as saying that, “if restaurants are allowed to reopen at this crucial moment, there will be a setback,” admitting there are differing views over students returning to school.
He said not all students should be allowed return on Monday, “but gradually”.
“The final decision on this issue will be taken (at the Cabinet meeting) on Thursday.”
Politicians want to have a say
Meanwhile, scientists advising the government on the coronavirus outbreak will be meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday morning, joined by the political party leaders. Suggestions tabled by Anastasiades and the parties could alter the government’s final decision on lifting measures.
Scientific advisors seem to be in favour of allowing all school students to return to their classrooms.
They seem to be in accord with the government on maintaining the twice-a-day leave from home, while pondering if the 9pm night curfew could be extended to later in the evening.
Apart from permits from their employers and students going to school, exits are limited by two SMS messages per day, describing the purpose, by category and the user’s postal code, to determine the area. These should be within “considerable” time, but does not determine if this is 3 hours or more.
As of Monday, relaxations are expected for gyms to re-open indoors, as well as dance schools and group sports activities for children and adults. The number of people allowed in theatres and cinemas may be increased, from the current cap of 50 people, although cinemas have opted not to open yet.
A ban on visiting nature trails and the mountain regions is also expected to be lifted.
Churchgoers are allowed to attend services, limited to 50 people at a time.
Cyprus has 33,391 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 230 deaths since the pandemic started.