President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday night announced a near lockdown, saying movement will be restricted as from tomorrow at 6 pm except in cases where absolutely necessary, the latest in a series of tough new measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
In a televised address, he also announced the closure of parks, squares, children’s play areas and beaches as well as building sites and said citizens can not go to places of worship.
“We are truly at war, and this isn’t won by enlisting our children to give or take lives by means of arms,” he said. “Its a war which can only be won if we stay in our shelters.”
There are a total of 116 confirmed coronavirus cases in Cyprus, 21 of them announced today, the biggest jump since the first two Covid-19 cases were confirmed in Cyprus on March 9.
The government has already introduced a number of measures to contain the spread including prohibiting all passenger flights, closing schools, shopping malls, catering establishments, hotels and entertainment venues among other.
But there have been calls on the president, including from the Cyprus Medical Association, to restrict all but necessary movement and to stop people from congregating.
In his address, Anastasiades said that humanity was waging war against an invisible enemy, but the dangers were very visible. This was a war that can only be won if everyone remained in their shelter, he added.
He spoke of lack of discipline and irresponsible behaviour by some which endangered the rest of the population and said that the scientists advising the government had warned that there was danger the spread of the virus could get out of hand and threaten the viability of the health system unless the measures are adhered to and expanded.
To this end the ministerial committee which met this morning authorized the Health Minister to issue a decree that would:
- Prohibit all unnecessary movement from 6 pm on March 24 to April 13. Exceptions are to get to work, purchase basic items, visit the doctor or pharmacy, go to the bank, help those who cannot care for themselves, go to ceremonies such as weddings, funerals or christenings if relatives to the first and second degree and with a maximum of 10 people, exercise or walk a dog if not more than two people and if in the vicinity of the house. All must carry an ID or passport and the necessary documentation. Details will be given tomorrow
- From 6 pm tomorrow the following will close: parks, children’s play areas, open sport facilities, squares, dams, excursion sites, marinas and beaches
- All retail companies will close except those to be listed in a decree to be published later today
- No open air markets
- Construction sites will close except by ministerial decree
- Going to places of worship such as churches and mosques is prohibited
- No traditional Easter bonfires (lambradjia)
The state would enforce the rules stringently and the violations carry a €150 fine, he said.
The president also announced measures to bolster the health system including Covid-19 tests at labs, use of medical and nursing students and more public health clinics.
He also told parents and families of students that he shared their concern, spoke of a painful decision and said that as soon as conditions allow, the government will look at a return in stages, with priority going to the vulnerable.
And he assured workers, companies and the self-employed the government will support them and that the package of support will be announced shortly.