Cyprus is going all out to beat the coronavirus after restrictive measures taken gradually north and south against the pandemic proved to be no match for the spread of the infectious disease.
Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades held a press conference on Sunday, after an emergency Cabinet meeting, announcing additional measures against the coronavirus pandemic including banning entry to any person without a special health certificate.
“It is the position of the Cabinet that Cyprus is facing an emergency,” Anastasiades said, as confirmed cases rose to 33 in the south while there were 6 in the north.
'No measure alone would be adequate towards public health as it takes a sense of individual responsibility and social solidarity in order to rise to the task'
The president, who had already announced several measures in an address to the nation on Friday, told reporters on Sunday that the latest warnings from the World Health Organization had been evaluated along with the situation as it was unfolding in Europe and Cyprus.
On Friday, just two hours before the president’s speech, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Europe was at the centre of the global coronavirus outbreak and called on countries to "do it all" by taking more aggressive measures.
Anastasiades had announced a 15-day ban on foreign nationals, including EU citizens traveling to Cyprus, unless travelers were registered for employment as legal aliens with state authorities or part of a diplomatic mission in the Republic.
No health papers, no entry
But on Sunday, the president added that starting on Monday evening at 6pm and through April 30, travelers in the eligible categories would be allowed to enter the country only if they have a valid health certificate issued up to four days prior to arrival showing no presence of COVID-19. Travelers will be further quarantined in state-approved facilities where they will remain in isolation for 14 days, while the measures are also applicable for entry through checkpoints in the buffer zone with the possibility of exceptions for humanitarian reasons.
“I want to be absolutely clear that nobody will be granted entry in the Republic of Cyprus unless eligibility is established under the categories and our conditions are accepted,” Anastasiades said.
Commercial activities suspended
Another measure includes an order for a number of business establishments to suspend operations for one month, including shopping malls, cafeterias, casinos, barbershops and hair salons, cultural venues, cinemas, and restaurants with the exception of food delivery.
Hotels will also suspend operations for two weeks, while in cases where guests have ongoing lodging arrangements, they can continue to receive services for up to six more days.
The shutdown does not affect supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries, convenience stores, and gas stations, which will remain open on the basis of adhering to strict health protocols.
Cypriot students abroad get money to stay put
The president, who was criticized for not being explicit on Friday in asking Cypriot students abroad to remain in their host countries, said the government would offer a €750 stipend to any student who chooses to remain overseas.
Anastasiades also announced the release of €100 million for enhancing public health, adding that “'no measure alone would be adequate towards public health as it takes a sense of individual responsibility and social solidarity to rise to the task.”
The new measures did not replace but were added onto Friday’s announced restrictions, the president said.
Turkish Cypriot authorities also took similar measures in the north, with travel bans having gone into effect on Saturday and shops closing down through March 27 except businesses offering essential services such as pharmacies, bakeries, gas stations, and supermarkets.
Both sides have called on their citizens to stay home and not go out unless they are healthy and it is absolutely necessary. Large public gatherings including club activities and church services have also been restricted.