Cyprus Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas announced, on Wednesday, a package of new measures which will be in place from Friday, July 9 until the end of July to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic with the focus being crowded areas and social events where clusters of new cases have been observed affecting mainly young people.
He urged all people who have not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible, to protect themselves and to contribute in the effort for the community’s immunity which will allow everyone to return to an “operational normality” safely.
In statements at the Presidential Palace, after a meeting of the Cabinet, Hadjipantelas said he briefed Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and his fellow Ministers on recent epidemiological data.
Contact tracing analysis, he said, has shown “clusters of cases in crowded areas and after social events. Large clusters are observed affecting mainly young people with a bigger social life.”
At the same time, the Minister of Health said, it has been found that over 90% of COVID cases have either not completed their vaccination scheme (both shots) or is unvaccinated, something which “intensifies concern for virus mutations and a spread in the community.”
Givern that the majority of patients treated in hospital are people who have not been vaccinated which means they have more serious symptoms is “of equal concern,” he noted.
He announced the following decisions which were taken by the Cabinet to contain the spread of the virus in the community:
Measures from July 9 – July 31
The maximum number of people in indoors spaces is set at 250 with a mandatory possession of a SafePass or 350 people provided that everyone is vaccinated with at least the first dose and three weeks have passed, or they have been infected in the last six months.
The maximum number of people in outdoor spaces is set at 350 with a mandatory possession of a SafePass or 500 people provided that everyone is vaccinated with at least the first dose and three weeks have passed, or they have been infected in the last six months.
In all cases health protocols in place should be implemented.
People aged 12 – 15 who are at present not in the age groups vaccinated and people over 16 who cannot be vaccinated due to a serious health condition are exempt but will have to show a negative PCR or rapid antigen test carried out in the last 72 hours.
The measures are in place for restaurants, events or cocktail venues, night clubs, music venues, bars, discos, theatres, amphitheatres, entertainment venues, cinemas, places of religious worship and stadiums, with the exception of football stadiums.
Businesses or establishments which will opt to only host people who are vaccinated or have been infected in the last six months should indicate so in high visibility space of their premises and to inform people of their decision.
The owner or manager of affected establishments is responsible for the implementation of the SafePass rule and other health measures.
Police and other duly authorised civil servants will continue to be responsible to oversee that the measures are upheld.
Replying to a question he said that he had a meeting with Justice and Public Order Minister Stefi Drakou during which it was decided that from Friday onwards (July 9) police and other checks will be “intensive and targeted.”
Incentives and measures announced on July 2
The Minister of Health also recalled the package of incentives and measures announced on Friday, July 2 namely that a vacation allowance will be granted to vaccinated persons from July 15 to 31 August, that soldiers who received their jab or will be vaccinated until August 21 will receive a five-day leave, while employees of both the public and the private sector will be given a day off from work for each day they receive a vaccination dose. The same applies for parents / guardians if they escort their minors for their vaccinations.
He also recalled that to encourage vaccinations in the age group of 18 – 30 years the Minister of Health has been authorized to engage to consultations with public and private sector organisations on measures to promote vaccinations.
Hadjipantelas reminded that as from July 9, SafePass will be necessary both indoors and outdoors in areas where more than 20 people are gathered (such as workplaces, bars, nightclubs, weddings, graduation parties, birthdays etc). In case of negative rapid or PCR test the certificate should have a 72-hour duration.
From July 9 to July 20 football fans who received both jab doses or have received their first dose three weeks before, hold a 72-hour negative or PCR test or were infected with Covid in the last six months will be allowed to enter the stadiums which will operate at 50% capacity. The same applies for cinemas, theatres and concerts.
As from July 21, capacity for football stadiums, theatres and concerts will increase to 75% with access given to persons who completed their vaccination scheme or have received their first dose three weeks before, hold a 72-hour negative or PCR test or were infected with Covid in the last six months.
He also recalled that the government terminates the free rapid antigen test programme from August 1, with the exception of young people aged 12 – 15 and people over 16 who are unable to be vaccinated due to suffering from a serious condition.
Hadjipantelas added that from August 21 Cypriots and Cyprus permanent residents returning to Cyprus should follow the same protocols applying to all passengers unless they have received the first dose of vaccination. He added that only persons who received the first vaccine dose will be entitled for a PCR test upon arrival to Cyprus.
He explained that Cypriots or permanent residents returning to Cyprus from countries classified in the red and orange list and have not received their first vaccine dose, will be required to present a 72-hour negative PCR test before their arrival. Persons aged 12 – 15 and persons over 16 years with serious health problems not eligible for vaccination will be exempted.
The Minister of Health expressed his thanks to private businesses and other organisations who will be offering incentives to young people to encourage them to be vaccinated, adding that more details will be announced by the Commissioner for the Citizen in the coming days.