COVID19: Lockdown III shutters coming down

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Cyprus is bracing for another lockdown as the authorities step in to contain a third COVID wave to halt pressure on the health service.

Instead of relaxing some measures for Orthodox Easter on 2 May, the government could impose a short, sharp lockdown lasting for 15 days.

According to media reports, the government is contemplating rolling back measures introduced in exiting the second lockdown, including the closing of restaurants, cafes and bars, shopping malls and retail stores.

The government is also mulling whether to keep school students home for an extra week or so following the two-week Easter break.

Current lockdown measures expire on April 30, and the government was expected to extend them until mid-May, such as the curfew, leaving home and household visits.

On Thursday, the Cabinet delayed taking any final decision until it meets again on Friday.

With cases stubbornly above 800 and patients in hospitals hitting a record 291, medical staff have openly called for a new lockdown.

Reportedly Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou and some government advisors have tabled the proposal for an imminent lockdown.

Health unions have urged the government to take stricter measures, openly asking authorities to impose a short-term lockdown, arguing the health system has reached capacity.

Staff at Limassol General said COVID-19 patients were being treated in ambulances and hallways due to the lack of beds.

Those supporting a Lockdown III argue that leaving it for later, the effect on businesses would be greater, while schools and their exam schedules would also be disruptive.

Cyprus is also heading for parliamentary elections on 30 May.

Scientists are also concerned over the large number of close contacts who are not being declared by people who test positive.

A new lockdown could be imposed as early as Saturday or next Monday.