COVID19: Ban on unvaxxed lifted

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After months of being locked out of hospitality, social events, and sports venues, unvaccinated Cypriot were allowed back in Monday, provided they carry a 24-hour negative coronavirus test.

A series of government relaxations end a mini-lockdown on unvaccinated people, who have been excluded from social events since 15 December.

Entry had been allowed only for people who had a booster shot or were double vaccinated.

Relaxations were introduced after authorities were encouraged by a decrease in COVID-19 patients in hospitals, following a surge of infections powered by fast-spreading Omicron.

Despite causing milder disease, the high transmissibility of the variant pushed cases past 5,000 a day, while hospitalisations, mainly from the Delta variant, reached close to 300.

The unvaccinated aged 12 and above can enter restaurants and cafes after presenting a 24-hour negative test.

Unvaccinated children between six and 11 will be asked to present a negative test not older than a week.

People who have not taken a coronavirus vaccine can also attend weddings, baptisms, visit stadiums, theatres, and cinemas.

The government also increased capacity at weddings, christenings, or restaurants, from 200 to 250.

A maximum of 12 people are allowed seated at the same table, up from eight.

A limit on the number of people during a house visit is increased from 10 to 20.

Regarding workplaces, the percentage of people required to work from home is reduced from 50% to 25%.

The government also eased restrictions on nightclubs, lifting a dancing ban.

However, this decision will be implemented upon drafting a health protocol governing these venues.

Reports say the protocol will require a 24-hour rapid test from nightclub goers.

Theatres and cinemas can operate at 75% capacity and sports stadiums at 70%.

Despite relaxations, authorities have stepped up checks at schools and nursing homes.

Children at kindergartens over four must undergo weekly tests unless vaccinated.

Meanwhile, a test to stay policy, implemented in schools and the army, for close contacts to undergo testing for seven consecutive days instead of self-isolating, is to be extended to the entire public service and teachers.

Employees at daycare facilities for vulnerable groups, transitional homeless hostels, daycare centres and child protection facilities must undergo a 72-hour PCR or a negative rapid test valid for 24 hours if unvaccinated.

Those with a valid vaccination certificate or a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 disease will be exempted.

From 28 February, state hospitals will resume routine operations as pressure on the health system is alleviated.