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19 June, 2024
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Cabinet under pressure to modify safe pass

Health minister draws line at rapid test short validity but scope of outdoor dining rules under discussion


There are reports of second thoughts over the scope of Cyprus’ safety pass with Kathimerini reporting that grievances within the hospitality industry have reached the Presidential Palace, putting enormous pressure on the health minister to water down rules pertaining to restaurants.

(Click here for an update to the story)

According to Kathimerini Cyprus, the administration on Thursday was on the receiving end of enormous pressure to modify or even scrap altogether an immunity proof requirement for diners gathering at restaurant and cafe patios or other outdoor eating establishments, a popular pastime among locals.

The administration on Thursday was on the receiving end of enormous pressure to modify or even scrap altogether an immunity proof requirement for outdoor dining, a popular pastime among locals

Media reports have also said the government appeared to be contemplating further relaxation of CoronaPass or even scraping it altogether for outdoor diners, while indoor dining was epxected to open up later this month.

CoronaPass, also known as SafePass, is the Cypriot government’s latest and controversial way to require proof of immunity from individuals who wish to visit places where people congregate, including dining establishments.

But the measure, a temporary relaxation and a precursor to Europe’s upcoming green certificate, remained in rudimentary form with Cypriot officials this week confirming it would not be an electronic document as previously announced.

Eligibility for the pass is restricted only to those who have been vaccinated or people who have a negative PCR or antigen rapid test valid for 72 hours, with both categories having to show paper proof to police officers and health inspectors, while those who have recovered from a COVID infection can also be exempted as long as they have received a text message from the health ministry confirming their case.

Health minister under pressure

Tomaras said Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, according to information obtained by Kathimerini, rejected an earlier proposal that would have lengthened the validity period of rapid tests from currently 72 hours to an entire week.

The proposal came days after photos by Kathimerini showed huge lines being formed in hot weather, with unvaccinated people in a rush to get a rapid test saying it was unfair to do this every three days.

Ioannou, who has been thwarting attempts by fellow ministers seeking more business-friendly solutions, says immunity proof is a way to help people get back to normality in a safe manner.

But Tomaras says the minister could agree to a discussion during Friday’s Cabinet meeting, essentially compromise where SafePass could be scrapped altogether for outdoor dining.

EU green certificate “on track”

EU officials are also stepping up efforts to boost tourism by offering a standard certificate verifying travelers' vaccination, test, or recovery from infection.

According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the scheme was “on track” but there is still a lot of legal and technical work to be done for EU’s green certificate

During a recent summit of EU leaders in the Portuguese city of Porto, von der Leyen said she expected all issues to be resolved by the end of May.

“We can realistically aim to have a political agreement by the end of this month,” she said, adding that the green pass system could be operational in June.

Cypriot officials said it was not worth investing in a digital system for the temporary CoronaPass, saying they expected the country’s safety pass to be replaced by the EU system in digitized form “in a matter of weeks.”

On Friday morning, the President’s Cabinet was set to discuss CoronaPass and other relaxation measures, including night curfew and gradual ease of other restrictions, with reports saying an improved epidemiological situation over recent days could mean an announcement could be expected soon.

Cyprus  |  CoronaPass  |  SafePass  |  safety pass  |  green certificate  |  outdoor dining  |  Cabinet  |  Ioannou  |  vaccine  |  rapid test

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