COVID19: Safe Pass scrapped for shopping

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Cyprus is one step away from lifting all COVID-19 restrictions as the government decided to scrap the Safe Pass for short-stay areas like shops and shorten quarantine time for positive cases from next week.

Following Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said the improvement of epidemiological data allowed the government to keep its promise to relax the measures.

“The public’s response to the call for vaccination and adherence to protocols issued by Health Ministry has provided us with a shield of protection, giving us optimism; the pandemic will soon come to an end,” said Hadjipantela.

“Let us not forget, however, that we still have a long road ahead of us, and we all need to comply with the decisions of the Scientific Advisory Committee to be able to take the extra steps back to normalcy,” he added.

Hadjipantela announced a new plan adjusting the Safe Pass requirements introduced in July.

Supermarkets, bakeries, banks, cinemas, shops, malls and other low-risk outlets will no longer have a door greeter asking clients to exhibit their Safe Pass documents.

The plan includes premises and activities, classified according to risk.

There are four categories, namely high risk, medium risk, low risk and “short-stay” areas, where a Safe Pass will not be required.

Medium risk venues are bars, restaurants, hotels, gyms, and sports stadiums, while night clubs and care homes are high risk.

The requirements depend on a person’s vaccination status.

The cabinet also approved reducing the self-isolation period for those testing positive to COVID from ten to seven days, provided they test negative in a rapid or PCR test as of March 8.

Self-isolation for close contacts who cannot isolate from the infected person, such as parents taking care of their child, has also been reduced to seven days, given that they test negative.

Hadjipantela said the maximum number of people allowed in retail businesses, casinos and gyms would also increase from March 8.

And the maximum capacity at events, including weddings and christenings, is 500, provided the area of the venue allows for a ratio of 1.5 square metres per person.

A ban on school parades will also be lifted, with a special protocol to be announced in the coming days.

New COVID-19 infections have hovered around 2,000 per day, and the number of coronavirus patients requiring hospital treatment has also decreased considerably, Hadjipantela said.

Scientists advising the government said that if the positivity rate, which stands at around 2%, drops to below 1% in the next few weeks, the pandemic will be reclassified as an endemic disease.