COVID19: Unvaccinated ban, quarantine for Omicron cases

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From 15 December, unvaccinated people will be banned from social events such as weddings, christenings, hospitality, and sports venues, as the government tightens COVID-19 restrictions.

On Monday, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas announced the tightening of measures to get ahead of the spread of Omicron, a highly transmissible COVID-19 variant.

According to the new measures, unvaccinated people will be excluded from social events and hospitality venues from Wednesday.

To get into an event, restaurant or bar, people need to prove they have been fully vaccinated or have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and carry a negative PCR or rapid test.

The ban on the unvaccinated also includes cafes, pubs, theatres, and cinemas.

People eligible for a booster shot but have not gotten one seven months after completing their initial vaccination regime must carry a negative PCR test, not older than 72 hours, or a rapid test not older than 48 hours for hospitality venues.

The cabinet will revisit the measure on 15 January.

Hadjipantelas said those excluded from vaccination for health reasons following a decision by the medical council would not be obliged to have their Safe Pass scanned but will need to get tested weekly.

Meanwhile, in light of the arrival of Omicron on the island, people listed as close contacts of Omicron cases need to isolate, regardless of vaccination status.

So far, five cases of the variant have been detected. People testing positive for Omicron will have to quarantine at state-designated facilities.

Vaccinated people listed as close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case (not Omicron) must take a rapid test within 72 hours and a free PCR test on the seventh day from coming into contact with the case.

People who have taken a booster shot are excluded from the above.

From 15 December, passengers arriving in Cyprus will also be required to undergo a free rapid test 72 hours from the day of their arrival, on top of undergoing a mandatory PCR test at the airport.

People who received the booster jab are excluded.

As Hadjipantelas announced, booster dose eligibility was reduced from six months to five months and two weeks.

Christmas events

In a separate measure, Christmas events organised by companies and other organisations will be cancelled unless the relevant health protocols are followed.

Health authorities launch a COVID-19 vaccination program for children aged five to eleven on Thursday.

Children in this age group will receive 10mg of the Pfizer vaccine instead of 30mg.

Hadjipantelas said the government had acted swiftly.

“All of humanity is in a constant war with a deadly virus, which changes face, mutates, adapts, spreads faster, and in some cases is fatal, and in others, it creates very serious long-term problems.

“Unfortunately, last week, in Cyprus, due to this disease, we lost people who could have been saved and who basically refused the help of our doctors and hospitals.

“This is inconceivable and unacceptable.

“In the war against the pandemic, we are responsible for what happens to us, but we cannot act so selfishly, so irresponsibly.

“Have we ever thought how painful these attitudes can be for our families, for our relatives, for our friends?”

The minister said the government does not wish to isolate Cypriots but is offering everyone the opportunity to protect their health and the health of their loved ones.

“Vaccination saves lives.”