President Nicos Anastasiades addressed the nation on Friday, urging people to vaccinate against COVID-19 to protect public health and the country’s economy.
His appeal came before new measures were to be announced later Friday to stem the fourth wave of infections, driven by the more contagious Delta variant.
The President revealed that broader use of the Safe Pass would be among measures to be announced.
Anastasiades said the government’s intention was never to divide the population between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, but it was duty-bound to protect the lives of everyone.
Cyprus’ healthcare system is under pressure, as in the week 8-15 July, 6,853 new cases were reported, with the number of patients in COVID wards reaching 181.
“The new variant of the virus is spreading so fast, leading other countries to reintroduce restrictive measures in the fashion of lockdown measures introduced in March last year.
“Then those measures were deemed necessary, as there was no other choice. In contrast to the first waves of the outbreak, people have been offered protection through the vaccination programs”.
Anastasiades said the government had two choices: “Either make vaccination obligatory or take other measures”.
“Respecting the rights of citizens, we did not do what other countries did, but we chose measures aimed at protecting the many.
The President said the decision to broaden the use of the safe pass aims to protect lives and jobs and the rights of those who have chosen to get vaccinated.
“Either we get vaccinated, or we will all have to live with the consequences.”
Measures will include a dancing ban at venues, reducing the number of people seated at a table and ensuring customers are seated at all times.
Currently, a Safe Pass is needed to enter hospitality venues, gyms, stadia, and even work.
A Safe Pass is proof of being vaccinated, recovering from the virus in the past six months, or a negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test.
Employees who have not been vaccinated need to get tested twice a week or risk being sent home on unpaid leave.
A decision on abolishing free testing as of 1 August still stands, although scientists have said that they would rather see the scheme become more targeted rather than scrapped.
Measures will be accompanied by incentives for younger people to get a jab, including coupons for tech gadgets, air tickets to the Greek islands, football season tickets from top-flight clubs.