Hospitality owners oppose the government banning those without a COVID-19 jab from entering entertainment or sports venues while expanding the requirement for a safe pass to children.
Owners of hospitality establishments say the government is again using their businesses as leverage on the unvaccinated to push up vaccination rates.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, Phanos Leventis of the Leisure and Entertainment Establishment Owners Association said hospitality businesses feel targeted once more by the government.
“It is unacceptable these measures come into force from 15 December, when restaurants, cafes and leisure venues expect their business to pick up ahead of the holidays.
“Having people over 12 excluded from premises, if they have not received at least the first dose, will prove devastating for us,” said Leventis.
According to the restrictions, as of 15 December, businesses will have to refuse anyone over 12 who has not been vaccinated from entering their establishments.
“While the vaccination rate among these ages is known to be very low, the government has succumbed to pressure to introduce this provision, leading to the destruction of dozens of businesses.”
He challenged the measure that obliges businesses to electronically scan the Safe Pass documents of everyone over 14 and check Safe Pass documents of children over the age of six.
From 15 December, anyone over 12 needs to be vaccinated with one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine to gain entry to hospitality venues, cinemas, theatres, and sports facilities, both indoor and outdoor.
From 29 November, children between six and 11 also need Safe Pass documents, which consists of proof of recovery from the virus in the past six months, or a negative PCR or rapid test not older than seven days.
“We are once again called on to police people, including children, barring them from our businesses.”
Leventis said his association is willing to take “drastic measures” if the government does not have second thoughts.
However, other businesses in the hospitality sector have no problem with the new measures, such as nightclubs and wedding organisers.
The president of the association of wedding and reception organisers, Constantinos Mosaikos, told the website Stockwatch, the industry agrees with the government decisions.
He said further clarification is needed to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Health to hold Christmas events by various organisations and companies.
“Maybe this provision is a bit overboard because we have submitted a protocol regarding the events, while small events are no different from a gathering of people in a restaurant,” Mosaikos said.
“We await clarifications as the measure may concern large events and not corporate parties organised by various companies during the Christmas period, in which 80-100 people participate”.
The president of the nightclub owners association, Nicos Vasiliou, said their establishments only allow vaccinated people on their premises.
“But the state generally waits until the last minute, just before the brink of a new lockdown, in order to take measures to curb cases”.
Authorities will also deny access to indoor areas such as shopping malls, restaurants, and cinemas to anyone who hasn’t received a third booster shot seven months after being vaccinated.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said the measure, which entails the revocation of the Safe Pass, will take effect on 18 December to beat back a resurgence of coronavirus infections before the Christmas holidays.
Mask-wearing in all indoor places, including schools, will become compulsory for everyone over six at the end of the month.
All school kids will have to undergo PCR tests at mobile testing units until the Christmas break, while all school Christmas events are cancelled.
The COVID-19 infection rate has hovered near or above 0.50% in recent weeks, and authorities are warning that more drastic measures could come down the pipeline if these steps don’t produce results.
Nearly 81% of adults in Cyprus are fully vaccinated, while that figure stands at 67% for the general population. About 14% of the population has so far received a booster shot.