NewsLocalHealth Ministry announces relaxation of COVID-19 measures (updated)

Health Ministry announces relaxation of COVID-19 measures (updated)

The cabinet in Cyprus partially relaxed on Wednesday the COVID-19 restrictive measures in place, announcing they will be reviewed before Easter.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said the cabinet decided that elementary school students from Limassol district will be allowed to return to their classes.  Gymnasium students throughout the island will also go back to school in person with the presentation of a negative rapid test.

The maximum number of persons allowed in private tuition centres will increase to seven, including the teacher. Deliberations will also take place between representatives of the Education Ministry, the Scientific Advisory Committee and school representatives to set up a rapid test programme for students of the second cycle of elementary school .

Furthermore, individual sports championships will be allowed in outdoor sports facilities, according to the guidelines of the Cyprus Sports Organisation and the Ministry of Health (eg shooting, track and field, cycling, etc) while the number of persons at swimming pools and gyms will also be increased.

Customers at betting shops will be allowed to remain in outside areas of the business, provided all rules and protocols are adhered to.

The number of SMS per person will be increased from two to three during the weekends while the two SMS per day during weekdays will remain unchanged.

All measures will apply from 1st April until the end of the month. The Cabinet will re-evaluate the situation during the Orthodox Holy week and possibly make adjustments for the Easter festivities.

The Minister said the epidemiological indicators have been steady, adding however that they remain at unsafe levels while the situation in hospitals is under control, yet extremely difficult and reversible.

The Cabinet confirmed that the de-escalation strategy should continue with slow steps allowing us to exit the health crisis with safety and without endangering public health or what the society has achieved so far.

“Cyprus’ epidemiological picture allows us to proceed with some relaxation measures. We are working non-stop to improve the epidemiological indicators and lift more measures”, he added

The strategy of targeted and population tests among working people, students and other groups, allows us to act in real time and locate infections, trace the contacts and restrict the spread of the virus, said Ioannou, adding this strategy is especially important due to the variants which make the virus more aggressive. The same strategy is followed by many European countries in an effort to restart, he added.

We have at our disposal the weapon of vaccination, the Minister, adding “we are increasing the rate of vaccinations in an effort to protect, the soonest, a larger percentage of the population”.

The vaccine programme, he said, is a national effort, and based on the quantities received, the vulnerable groups and the general population will be vaccinated.

The protection which the vaccine affords is evident since the number of positive COVID-19 cases at nursing homes have dramatically dropped as well as the number of hospital admissions of people over the age of 70. At the same time, the number of those seriously affected by COVID has dropped and in most cases the symptoms are mild.

The Minister repeated the significance in complying with health protocols and personal protection measures.

Thanking the people for their cooperation, Ioannou said “we are at a crossroads and a lot will be determined on how we proceed. Complacency or relaxation can lead to a deterioration of the epidemiological picture. Adhering to hygiene measures, carrying out tests and vaccinations will bring us closer to an end to this great challenge”, the Minister concluded.

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