A daily curfew will be pushed back to midnight from Monday, while the safe pass will no longer be required for any outdoor activities, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced.
After Friday’s cabinet meeting, Ioannou announced an additional easing of COVID-19 restrictions added to those originally scheduled from Monday, following the lifting of a two-week lockdown.
The curfew will start at midnight instead of 11 pm and end at 5 am the next day from 17 May.
Citing the improved epidemiological picture and the increased numbers getting their COVID-19 jab, Ioannou said the government was in a position to allow for more relaxations earlier than planned.
“Responsible behaviour exhibited by the majority of citizens, in combination with the progress of the vaccination rollout, contributed to the clear improvement of the epidemiological data.
“The declining trend in the positivity rate but also the clear reduction in the number of patients admitted to hospital in the last days have made us more optimistic,” said Ioannou.
Clients at cafes and restaurants will no longer be required to carry a safe pass, consisting of either proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or a negative rapid test no older than 72 hours, to visit outdoor seating areas and outdoor theatres and cinemas.
The hospitality sector had exerted pressure on the government for the measure, arguing the restriction discourages people from visiting their establishments.
However, the safe pass will remain as a requirement to visit the indoor venues, including gyms, theatres, shopping malls and churches, Ioannou said.
It is not needed to go to supermarkets, hairdressers, banks, kiosks, bakeries, or public services.
The minister also gave a much-awaited timeline for the opening of nightclubs, which have been closed since March last year.
On 10 June, nightclubs will reopen under a strict health protocol to be announced later.
Gyms will also see their share of relaxations announced by the Cyprus sports organisation (KOA).
More freedoms from 10 May
Church services can be carried out with a capacity of 30% from 17 May.
Weddings, christening parties are back on as they can cater up to 200 people, or a maximum of 30% of the venue’s capacity.
Parties can only be held at restaurants and hotels’ outdoor facilities.
Casinos and conferences, and commercial fairs are also allowed, keeping to the 30% capacity rule.
Outdoor theatres and cinemas can also hold events, with a maximum of 50 people, not exceeding 30% of their capacity.
Theme parks and playgrounds will also open on Monday, but home visits are still restricted to 10 people in a household.
Authorities continue to encourage people to work from home, but 50% of employees at private companies and civil servants can work from their office.
People working from their offices will be obliged to be tested on a bi-weekly basis unless they have been vaccinated with at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, no less than three weeks earlier.
A two-week nationwide lockdown was introduced on 26 April and lifted on 10 May.
The number of cases, the percentage of positivity and admissions to hospitals decreased significantly.
Cyprus’ daily tally of COVID-19 cases had hit an all-time high record of 941 on 20 April, with the country’s health system coming under strain as patients in hospitals exceeded 300.
Cases in recent days have remained in the 200s, with Friday’s national report recording a sharp decrease in the 14-day cumulative notification rate.
Hospitals are also reporting fewer COVID admissions, as 167 patients were in hospitals on Thursday, of which 54 were critical.
Ioannou thanked the public for their efforts over the past 15 months since the pandemic hit the island, calling on them to continue abiding by hygiene rules and protocols.
“Using of a facemask, frequently washing of hands, sticking to a fixed group of social contacts, the use of the Safe Pass tool in crowded places, are just some of the simple measures we can incorporate into our daily routine to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said Ioannou.