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COVID19: Easter celebrations on, Safe Pass scrapped

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Cyprus is scrapping the COVID-19 Safe Pass for the outdoor hospitality venues and nightclubs for Easter, while the requirement will be binned entirely on 15 May, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said Wednesday.

On Friday, to coincide with Greek Orthodox Easter, the safe pass is scrapped for outdoor hospitality venues and nightclubs.

From 15 May, the safe pass is abolished for all places, excluding indoor nightclubs, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centres, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said Wednesday after a cabinet meeting.

Hadjipantela said Cypriots could celebrate Easter as they were accustomed to before the coronavirus outbreak two years ago.

“The improvement of the epidemiological picture allows us to announce a further relaxing of measures,” Hadjipantela told reporters.

“The suspension of restrictions does not signify the end of the pandemic. Coronavirus is still among us and infects people around us every day.”

Under the new rules, as of Good Friday, presenting a Safe Pass document is only required for higher risk hospitality venues such as the indoor facilities of restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs.

Ceilings on the number of people allowed to be seated at a table at restaurants or for home visits are abolished.

From Friday, employees at hospitality venues catering to customers seated outdoors will no longer be obliged to wear a mask.

Mandatory wearing of masks at indoor venues, government buildings and public transport is still required.

From 15 May

Most remaining restrictions will be lifted in three weeks.

From 15 May, the Safe Pass is abolished for all areas, excluding indoor spaces like nightclubs, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centres.

From mid-May, only unvaccinated people will need to present a negative 48-hour rapid test of 72-hour PCR while visiting a patient at a hospital. Currently, everyone visiting needs to present a 24-hour rapid test.

The Health Minister also announced that self-isolation will no longer be required for close COVID-19 contacts regardless of their vaccination status or whether they had contracted the virus in the last three months.

Instead, all close contacts are advised to get tested on the third and fifth day.

He added that weekly testing was recommended for everyone, either a self-test or a rapid test.

Moreover, children under 12 will no longer be required to wear a face mask while the ‘test to stay’ policy for all schools will be scrapped.

Students will no longer be required to show a Safe Pass as of mid-May.

A ceiling on the capacity of hospitality venues, bars and nightclubs will be increased to 100% for establishments up to 500 sqm and 85% for those over 500 sqm, with the ratio remaining at one person per sqm.

The maximum capacity in stadiums and casinos also increased to 85%, just in time for the Cup final on 25 May.

From 15 May, COVID vaccinated or recovered employees at hospitals, nursing homes, medical practices, rehabilitation centres, and other closed structures will no longer be required to present a negative test to go to work.

Unvaccinated employees will continue to be required to present a 48-hour negative rapid or PCR test.

The ministry also said that a price ceiling of €6 for every pack of five self-tests would be set in the coming days.

The cabinet also approved the fourth vaccine dose for people aged 60 and over, provided five months have passed since their last jab.

The launch of the second booster rollout for people 60 and over will be announced in the coming days.