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New measures announced by Health Minister due to increase in number of COVID-19 cases

Face masks must be worn outside at all times, the Cabinet decided on Thursday. Moreover, stricter measures apply in all districts and partial lockdown with ban on movement will apply for Limassol and Paphos, as the epidemiological situation in these areas is alarming.

Announcing the decisions Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said that all measures come into force tomorrow, with a new decree, until November 9. He called on everyone to observe the measures and protocols, especially in workplaces and gatherings, echoing the urgency of the situation.

Measures in Limassol and Paphos

As regards Paphos and Limassol, the Minister said movement would be banned between 11 pm and 5am except for people needing to get to work, or for medical emergencies or visits to pharmacies. Citizens need to present a confirmation or proof of the reason they are outside.

Restaurants, bars, cafeterias, etc, including those within hotels, must close by 10.30pm but they can run their delivery services after this hour.

All sports and social activities of children under 18 such as football, dance, swimming or martial arts classes, choir practice etc, are suspended.

Likewise, all sports championships for under 18 whose clubs are based in the Limassol and Paphos districts are suspended. If a Limassol club was scheduled to have a match with another in Nicosia, that event will be suspended until the end of the measures, the Minister explained.

According to the Minister the additional measures in Limassol and Paphos have been decided based on the epidemiological outlook in these two districts. He said that in Limassol during the past 14 days, the average is 180 cases per 100,000 population which is over the 150 limit used by ECDC to place an area in a red zone.

Paphos has been recording an upward trend during the past two weeks, with the average now being at over 80 per 100,000.

Ioannou also announced measures for all districts similar to those that came into force last Saturday.

These measures are as follows:

  1. Individuals are permitted to attend gatherings in houses and public meeting areas, with the exception of catering places, not exceeding a maximum number of 10 persons per house/group, including underage children.
  2. Mass attendance and other forms of religious worship in churches, mosques and other religious places, as well as religious ceremonies, shall be performed with a maximum number of 75 persons, subject to the protocols in force for places of religious worship.
  3. The holding of matches in the sports venues of Nicosia and Limassol Districts in the context of athletic championships, is allowed without the presence of spectators, provided that the relevant protocols are observed.
  4. The maximum number of persons allowed to be served in catering establishments in Nicosia and Limassol Districts is set at 75 for indoor spaces and 150 for outdoor spaces.
  5. The functioning of cinemas, theatres and performance halls is allowed with a maximum number of 75 persons in indoor spaces and 150 persons in outdoor spaces, subject to the guidelines and protocols in each case.
  6. Cocktail parties and well-wishing at weddings and christenings is prohibited. Physical presence is only allowed at lunch or dinner, with a maximum number of 350 attending persons.
  7. The booking reservations for restaurants cannot exceed 6 persons per table

Supermarkets, food and beverage shops and pharmacies will serve only people over 60 and people with disabilities until 9am.

Replying to questions by the Press, the Minister said that the support of the citizens and the adherence to the measures are crucial in order to have the expected results.

Asked if the use of a face mask will apply during school breaks, Ioannou said he believes students should also wear masks during breaks if possible.

He also said that the Reference Hospital in Famagusta is fully staffed. The Minister said that some arrangements have been made with private hospitals for the admission of patients who do not need intensive care and added that all the public hospitals are there to assist. He repeated that the ICU can accept 120 patients with the possibility of a small increase in the number of admissions.

Replying to another question the Minister said that there are three high risk areas in Cyprus and if the protocols are followed, the risk of infection will be drastically reduced.

Ioannou said that the reproduction rate is above 1.5 adding that there are 25 to 30 contacts on average for each positive COVID case.

He added that in view of the winter, the Ministry will assess the revision of some measures such as high risk activities, gatherings, measures for restaurants etc.

Prior to the Cabinet meeting, Ioannou met with the advisory committee on coronavirus to discuss the situation.

(CNA)

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