Stricter measures to contain the spread of coronavirus were announced by the Health Minister on Monday as the island scrambles to curb the steadily rising deaths and infections.
Confirmed cases rose to 230 in the Republic of Cyprus on Monday, when one more person, a 77-year-old man, died, raising the death toll to six. Cases in the north, where one person died, also rose to 69.
Heath Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced the new bundle of tougher measures after an inter-ministerial meeting convened on Monday morning.
According to the new measures, which will be placed in effect at 6am on March 31:
1. The public is forbidden from leaving their homes or shelters from 9pm until 6am, with the measure applying to all days of the week and holidays.
Exempt from this measure are workers travelling to or from their workplace, who will be required to present the relevant form filled-in by their employers.
2. A cap has also been placed on the number of times the public can request to leave the house for legitimate reasons.
According to the new measures, the public can only request permission by sending an SMS to 8998, and can only send one SMS per day.
Only those aged over 65 will be exempt from having to send an SMS, and will be permitted to travel if they carry the necessary form filled in.
3. House gatherings involving people who do not permanently reside there are forbidden. The neighbourhood watch will be on alert to report any violations of this measure.
4. The number of persons in any vehicle, including taxis, cannot exceed three persons including the driver.
The following retail businesses will remain closed on Sundays:
1. Retail stores that had so far been allowed to continue operations, such as supermarkets, meat and fish markets, bakeries, etc, will be closed on Sundays.
Exempted from this measure are kiosks, given that they do not trade in retail products.
Ioannou said that owners of businesses in operation must take all necessary measures to ensure that individuals keep a two-metre distance from each other both within and outside their premises, in cases where people form lines for certain services.
As of Tuesday, 6am, the following will cease operations:
1. Tourist and travel agencies.
2. Aircraft handling services, excluding those relating to the service of flights exceptionally approved by the Minister for Transport and cargo flights.
Additionally, the inter-ministerial meeting decided on the following:
1. Increase of the out-of-court fine from €150 to €300.
2. Sharp increase in patrols and checks at Buffer Zone crossings.
3. Utilization of neighbourhood watch.
4. Recommendations will be made to banks for issuing credit cards to beneficiaries based on their deposits and ways of protecting customers who withdraw cash from ATMs.
5. To limit the movement of those who have tested positive for coronavirus and are self-isolating, the Ministry of Health is examining ways of enforcing home observation.
Certain groups to be allowed entry into the Republic of Cyprus
Ioannou also stated that certain groups will be allowed entry into the Republic. These include students who are part of vulnerable groups, and persons who had travelled abroad for medical reasons, along with those who accompanied them.
Students considered to be part of vulnerable groups will need to secure a specific certificate to be issued only after evaluation by a three-member medical council. Applications must be emailed to the Cyprus Medical Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who had travelled abroad for medical reasons will need to secure a certificate from Cyprus diplomatic missions abroad.
The Minister said that flights from Athens and London will be chartered by the Republic of Cyprus if necessary, with all arrivals to be subject to a 14-day quarantine and a test for coronavirus.
Those who will return after a trip for medical reasons will be placed in self-isolation in order to continue their medical treatment.
Ioannou added that medical gear is expected to arrive on the island from Greece on Saturday.