COVID19: Cyprus takes another cautious step out of lockdown

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Cyprus on Monday entered a thirds stage of exiting a second COVID-19 lockdown, as more school students returned to class with extra curriculum activities allowed and gyms reopening.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou urged the public to stay vigilant as the good work achieved could be undone.

“Today, we are taking another step in lifting restrictions. I urge you to observe self-protection measures. The future is in all our hands.

“The situation is constantly being evaluated. We must avoid setbacks,” Ioannou tweeted on Monday.

First- and second-year Lyceum students went back on Monday, as did those in technical schools and private school equivalents.

The Ministry of Education announced on Sunday that Gymnasium students would return to their classes on Tuesday, March 16, later than earlier planned (March 8).

Teaching staff and pupils physically attending class must undergo rapid antigen testing every week.

Presenting the test results will be mandatory from March 8, and parents are asked to permit their children to take the test.

From Monday, music and private tutoring classes are allowed to resume but only with two people’s physical presence (one tutor and one student).

Gyms, dance schools and other indoor sports facilities, including swimming pools, will also resume operations based on protocols.

Gyms and dance schools are allowed to facilitate two people if their facilities are 80 square metres, from 80-200 sqm three people are allowed over 200 sqm a maximum of five. The trainer or teacher is included in the number of people allowed.

Galleries and other art spaces can also reopen, while visits will be allowed to nursing homes.

Access to nature trails for exercise will is allowed while street vending and flea markets for the sale of items other than food can resume.

There is still a ban on outdoor social gatherings and organised grassroots sports.

People can still only leave their home twice a day via SMS approval, with a 9 pm to 5 am curfew remaining in place.

When sending an SMS 8998 text number, category ‘5’ can also apply for care home visits, while ‘6’ includes gyms, nature paths, and dance schools.

Bazars, outdoor markets are included in ‘2’, while ‘9’ covers art centres and galleries.

The government imposed a second national lockdown on January 10 after daily infections peaked at 907 on December 29.

First relaxations came on February 1, when more than 50% of employees returned to work, and elementary and last year high school students went back to class on 8 February.

Retail shops also opened on 8 February, while the hospitality sector has been told to hold on until 16 March.

Cyprus reported 283 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, ending a week of daily infections exceeding 200, instead of dropping to below or near 100 from the end of January.

Total COVID-19 infections are 34,707 and 231 deaths.