COVID19: Cyprus turns screw on unvaccinated

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Cyprus Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas has met President Nicos Anastasiades to finalise new COVID-19 measures to be introduced this week, including restrictions for the unvaccinated, while limiting social activities during the festive season.

Hadjipantelas will brief the President over the island’s coronavirus outlook after receiving recommendations from the experts.

Decisions taken on Monday are expected to be rubberstamped by the cabinet on Wednesday.

Both the health minister and Anastasiades have warned they will restrict the unvaccinated to prevent a national lockdown.

“In order to avoid a total lockdown, some people need to be excluded, no matter how much we respect their opinions,” Anastasiades said at the weekend.

Restrictions expected to be introduced will see unvaccinated people prohibited from entering hospitality, sporting events and theatres.

The government is also considering banning school Christmas gatherings and celebrations across Cyprus.

Additional stricter measures are not ruled out if the situation worsens.

Epidemiologists have recommended self-tests, limiting the number of people at gatherings, working from home, carrying out targeted tests on the vaccinated.

Making the booster shots mandatory is also on the table.

Meanwhile, authorities are alarmed over a large number of cases and clusters found at schools.

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said the obligatory use of masks could be introduced at primary schools.

Austria became the first country to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory while entering its fifth full lockdown on Monday.

The Netherlands and Germany have also imposed partial lockdowns.

France and Greece announced they would require booster shots for people over 65 and 60, respectively, to have a valid Safe Pass.

The almost certain tightening of measures in Cyprus comes after a new resurgence of the virus, pushing cases up to close to 500 and hospitalisations to three digits.

Cases over the weekend are believed to have dropped because fewer tests are being carried out by pharmacies and private labs for the unvaccinated.

On Sunday, some 92 COVID-19 patients were in hospital, seven more than Friday’s 85.

So far, the island has reported 130,100 cases and 590 deaths.