COVID19: Work from home to be enforced

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Working from home will be reintroduced as the government tightens COVID-19 measures to curb a new wave of coronavirus cases.

The emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, coupled with the island’s new spike of infections, has Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas set to table tighter measures before the cabinet on Thursday.

As confirmed by the Health Ministry, Hadjipantelas will propose that 20% of employees at private companies and the public sector be sent to work from home.

“This will include those who are already working from home who have either tested positive for the coronavirus or have been declared as a close contact of a known case,” said a ministry official.

The minister will also propose that all school trips and other activities be cancelled.

According to a previous government decision, all school Christmas celebrations have been banned.

The ministry is contemplating cancelling all festive activities in the private sector, including those planned at department stores and malls.

According to previous comments made by Hadjipantelas, if festive activities are not banned, they will only be allowed outdoors with guests needing a negative COVID-19 test no older than 48 hours, regardless of their vaccination status.

Army reservists may not be called in for exercises until the end of February.

It is also expected that all arrivals at Cyprus ports and airports be subjected to mandatory PCR testing before entering the country.

Health authorities have already stepped-up random testing at airports.

Meanwhile, the cabinet is not expected to greenlight the rollout of a vaccination scheme for children aged five to eleven, as authorities are waiting for the manufacturing company to deliver the necessary quantities first.

COVID-19 vaccines for children are not expected to arrive before 20 December.

Cyprus on Monday enforced stricter COVID-19 restrictions, as children over six now need to wear a face mask in school and present a Safe Pass for extracurricular activities and venues they visit.

Mask-wearing and carrying a Safe Pass to gain entry to shops and entertainment venues is now mandatory for anyone over six.

A digital Safe Pass document is mandatory for those between 14 and 64.

Adults who have not completed their vaccination regimen must have a 72-hour PCR test or a 48-hour Rapid Antigen test for Safe Pass purposes.

Previously unvaccinated people could have a rapid test every 72 hours.

From 15 December, only people over 12 who have received at least one dose of the vaccine will be able to enter indoor and outdoor venues such as stadiums, restaurants, and nightclubs, regardless of whether they have recently been tested.

People needing a booster jab have until 18 December to get one, or their Safe Pass will be invalid.