Cyprus will ease out of lockdown with high school students going back on Friday; more people allowed to attend gyms and private tutoring, individual sporting events permitted while granting an extra home exit at weekends.
The 11 pm curfew will continue at least until the end of April.
Gymnasium and Limassol primary schools, temporarily closed in March due to COVID-19 clusters, will return to class on Friday, the cabinet decided on Wednesday.
Also, people will be allowed three SMS messages for permission to leave the house at weekends.
However, during weekdays, the limit of two outings remains, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told reporters.
Ioannou noted that Cyprus’s epidemiological situation is still not safe, which meant that steps to ease out of the lockdown must be cautious to prevent backsliding.
“The Cabinet reaffirmed the strategy for lifting measures would continue with slow steps that will allow us to emerge from the health crisis safely without endangering public health,” said Ioannou.
“The epidemiological situation of Cyprus allows us to make a few steps. We are working non-stop to improve our epidemiological situation so that we can lift more restrictions.”
Ioannou said that Cyprus would continue to rely on a three-pillar strategy to reduce cases and control the spread of the virus.
He explained that authorities would be pushing ahead with the vaccination rollout while relying on mass testing and social distancing measures.
“An additional weapon that will help protect the public and facilitate a return to normality.”
Ioannou argued that the vaccination program is paying off as the number of cases in care homes and among the old is down, as is the number of hospital admissions of people aged over 70.
The minister urged the public to adhere to protocols and to continue getting tested frequently.
“Targeted and more general population tests among workers, pupils and other groups allows authorities to have a real-time view of the situation and to move quickly to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
New measures come into force from Thursday, 1 April until 30 April.
The government will be evaluating the situation the week before Easter to assess the COVID landscape.
New Relaxations from 1 April:
- Gymnasium and Limassol Elementary school students will return to their classrooms on April 2. Gymnasium students will only be allowed back on the presentation of a negative COVID-19 test.
- Increase in the permitted number of people at private tutoring institutes to seven, including the teacher.
- A programme will be drawn up to carry out nasal swab antigen tests among pupils in years four to six of primary schools.
- Individual outdoor sports events and competitions are permitted in line with the Cyprus Sports Association (KOA) guidelines (shooting, track, cycling, tennis).
- Increased number of people allowed at swimming pools and gyms to be decided by KOA. Currently, the maximum for gyms is five.
- Betting shops will be allowed to accommodate clients in outdoor areas.
- On Saturday and Sunday’s people will be given an extra SMS request to leave their homes. The two SMS a day limit remains for weekdays.