COVID19: Cyprus begins to breath again

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Cyprus on Monday exited a third national lockdown with a new coronavirus “safety pass” system to allow people to move freely and the economy to open up.

“Cyprus takes a step towards returning to a more normal pace of social and economic activity,” Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said Sunday.

“By implementing health protocols, testing the population and expediting the vaccination programme, Cyprus is taking an important step towards exiting uncertainty,” he added.

The government has abolished the system of official approval by text message used to allow people to leave home.

Cypriots wanting to enter hospitality venues will now need to show a Covid certificate that the government has named a “safety pass”.

Those eligible must have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine or contracted the virus in the past six months or have a valid 72-hour negative PCR or rapid test.

Authorities said the pass is a temporary measure, to be enforced until May 31, to help speed up the island’s vaccination rollout in a race to reach herd immunity, with 65% of the adult population vaccinated at least once by the end of June.

Although outdoor hospitality and retail shops reopened, a night-time curfew will remain effective from 11 pm.

On April 26, Cyprus went into a two-week lockdown as hospitals struggled to cope with surging coronavirus cases.

Cyprus has faced a third wave of Covid-19 infections fuelled by the more contagious British variant, with daily cases peaking at a record 941 last month.

New daily cases have since eased to below 300, as has the test positivity rate.

On Sunday, Cyprus recorded 269 cases, on a record 109,846 Covid tests.

The level, however, is much higher than in September 2020, when daily infections were often close to zero.

Freeing up the economy comes as the eastern island welcomes vaccinated tourists without entry curbs from May 10.

The country says it has made significant progress on its vaccination campaign, with people in their twenties now eligible for their first jab from Monday.

The Health Ministry said Cyprus ranks sixth in the EU for administering the first dose of Covid vaccines.

Up until 8 May, 36% of the adult population had received a first jab and 11% been fully vaccinated.

Cyprus has registered almost 70,000 cases of Covid-19 infection and 336 deaths since the pandemic reached its shores in March 2020.

Where Safe Pass is needed

– Dining areas (restaurants, cafes, bars, snack bars, etc.)

– Places of religious worship

– Outdoor and indoor theatres, cinemas, and event halls

– Shopping malls and retail stores

– Weddings, baptisms, and funerals

– Gyms, dance schools and other sports schools

– Nursing homes, accommodation facilities for the chronically ill

– Hotels and tourist accommodation

– Pre-election rallies in theatres/amphitheatres, restaurants, homes

– Conferences, trade fairs

– Casinos

Safe pass not needed

– Hairdressers, beauty salons

– Banks

– Departments / Services private and public sector

– Betting shops

– Flea markets, supermarkets, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, fruit shops, mini-markets, kiosks, pharmacies

–  Beaches

– Outdoor excursions