Stricter measures come into effect as of November 29 in Cyprus in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, it was announced on Wednesday after a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Nicos Anastaasiades.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas, said the age limit for the use of mask is reduced to six years of age while the children aged 6-11 will have to present Safe Pass. From 13 December all citizens will be eligible for self-tests.
From 15 December indoor and outdoor stadiums, theatres, amphitheaters, cinemas, showrooms and nightclubs as well as discos and dance clubs and restaurants will be open to people aged 12 and over that have at least the first dose of the vaccine.
Another measure calls for the abolition of the Safe Pass for all those who have not had the booster shot after seven months have elapsed from the completion of their vaccination regime.
From 29 November, children aged 6 and over will have to wear masks in all designated areas while children from 6-11 years of age will have to present a valid Safe Pass. The preconditions for a Safe Pass for this age group are either a COVID-19 Recovery Certificate in the last six months, a negative PCR or Rapid Test with a seven-day validity either in printed form or a text message.
From 29 November, all school Christmas celebrations are suspended while Christmas celebrations organised by other bodies will have to obtain specific permission from the Ministry of Health.
The validity of Safe Pass will be checked through the CovScan application for citizens aged 14 and over.
At areas considered high risk for the virus’ transmission and at which virus clusters have been detected, rapid tests will be carried out through the mobile units of the Ministry of Health, regardless of age and vaccination history.
All those aged 18 and over who have not completed their vaccination regime by the 1st of December, will require a PCR with a 72-hour validity or a Rapid Test with a 48-hour validity for Safe Pass purposes.
From December 13, all citizens will be able to carry out self-tests. Those who are not vaccinated will bear the cost while in the case of vaccinated citizens, the Ministry of Health will subsidize the cost and personal doctors will have to prescribe the self-Tests. It is clarified that the self-tests do not replace Rapid Tests or PCR and in the event of a positive result, it will have to be confirmed via a PCR test.
All decisions taken on Wednesday will be valid until 31st December 2021.
Minister Hadjipantelas said vaccination is our only weapon to return to normality. “We are sure that our citizens will respond”, he said, and this is expected due to the massive turnout of people in the last few days at vaccination centres.
So far 84,690 people have received the 3rd dose and none of them have had to be hospitalized. Therefore, the booster dose is now considered pivotal, the Minister replied.
He also expressed optimism that the new treatment with antiviral drugs, expected to arrive on the island around the end of December, will shed light at the end of the tunnel and combined with the vaccines, will significantly help in handling the pandemic.
The Cypriot Minister said there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in daily cases, hospitalisations and deaths in many countries, a phenomenon which is evident in Cyprus too.
He also said that according to EU data, Cyprus ranks 4th in the list of countries with low death rates in the union.
We have achieved this because we took timely measures in the past, preventing overcrowding in state hospitals and not allowing ourselves to decide who will live or die. Only through cooperation and personal responsibility, we will be able to overcome the threat of the virus and save this year’s Christmas, without taking any further measures”, he added.
Asked if restrictions for those who have not been vaccinated have been approved by the Attorney General in order to address any constitutional issues, the Health Minister said restrictions in accessing stadiums and theatres were applied in July as well and therefore there should be no problem.
Replying to a question he noted that restrictions for those who have not been vaccinated and for those who will not get the booster dose seven months after the second one will apply until December 31, 2021.
Replying to another question, Hadjipantelas said that the Deputy Ministry of Innovation has informed them that it will be ready as regards the use of the CovScan Cyprus application, on the basis of the new measures taken. Moreover he noted that the Health Ministry will try to further reinforce the vaccination centres.