The President of the Republic of Cyprus is expected to call on the Archbishop to push back on Easter celebrations, as media sources say the government is likely to heed the advice of experts to extend coronavirus measures until the end of April.
Health experts in Cyprus have been calling on the government not to announce an ease on restrictions currently in place to combat the spread of the Covid-19 infection, saying this was a critical week in the effort to flatten the curve.
According to state-funded radio RIK3, government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos confirmed on Tuesday morning that President Anastasiades was planning to sound out Archbishop Chrysostomos on the issue of pushing back the date of Easter Sunday public celebration, probably in late May.
Koushos clarified that the government did not intend to interfere with church matters, saying the decision would be up to the Holy Synod
Koushos clarified that the government did not intend to interfere with church matters, saying the decision would be up to the Holy Synod. But he also added that government measures applied to everyone including the Church.
Orthodox Easter falls on April 19 this year, one week after Western Easter, with health officials expressing concern that local residents may flock to churches in droves if measures were to ease during the holy week.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, citing well-informed sources, the President’s Cabinet has essentially ruled against any escalation of measures but seemed adamant about extending on Wednesday the decree on current movement restrictions through the end of the month.
Cyprus in "make or break" week against virus
Over the weekend, health experts warned about a possible second wave of infection. The number of asymptomatic carriers, who have the virus and can give it to others but show no symptoms, was said to be on the rise after a 3% jump from 13% to 16% in just a couple of days.
Health officials said there was a gradual reduction in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, adding that measures in place have been effective but this could still change at a moment’s notice.
Police on Tuesday said there was a drop in decree violations, with 280 people issued fines in the last 24 hours out of 13,000 inspections of drivers and pedestrians. In the previous week, there were some 400 fines issued daily while additional measures recently included a curfew from 9pm until 6am every day.
Pilgrims visit chapel in violation of decree
But police also said there were still blatant violations including a group of 15 churchgoers, who went on a pilgrimage at a chapel in Famagusta district.
While the government is expected to stay the course during the Easter week, local media previously reported that some modification of measures were on the agenda for Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
According to Philenews, President Anastasiades hinted at another address to the nation where he would share the latest details on the fight against the pandemic and also explain what was at stake regarding the extension of current measures.