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14 July, 2024
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Cyprus scrambles on eve of third lockdown

Government revises church rule for midnight mass after criticism from Archbishop


Cyprus' Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou has announced a two-week lockdown starting Monday, including a revision for Holy Saturday midnight mass after Archbishop Chrysostomos cried foul over rules that were "unacceptable."

A third lockdown in the Republic of Cyprus is set to begin Monday morning, April 26, at 5am which will last through May 9, amid coronavirus daily cases on the rise and a burden on state hospitals.

Measures include a night curfew starting at 9pm until 5am, while exceptions can be made for going to work, hospital, pharmacy, or a vet only for emergencies. Another exception will be made for Holy Saturday late night, when curfew start time will be 1am (morning of Easter Sunday).

Church services will be held without attendees while only on Holy Saturday night up to 50 churchgoers can observe the Easter midnight mass in the church courtyard or inside the church.

Archbishop says oringinal rule too strict unacceptable

An original announcement said people would not be allowed to attend Holy Saturday service inside the church, but the government quickly revised the rule after Archbishop Chrysostomos said the decision was “too strict” and “unacceptable.”

The Archbishop, who has backed previous government measures against the pandemic, then warned he would call on believers to enter the church, saying social distancing and the use of masks were adequate measures. He also called on church officials to ensure protocols are followed properly to avoid crowding situations.

“I wonder why the minister, who had found an ally in the church and me personally, now has second thoughts,” Chrysostomos said after the original announcement.

The Archbishop called on church officials to ensure protocols are followed properly to avoid crowding situations

Ioannou later said the government was always ready to correct any mistakes or make revisions wherever possible, referring to the Holy Saturday service ban inside the church that was later revised to allow attendees indoors.

Other measures include people having the opportunity to get permission during the lockdown to exit their homes no more than once a day by sending an SMS text message to 8998, not counting exceptions for vaccination appointments where no SMS notification is required.

On Easter Sunday only, two legitimate outings can be allowed through the text service.

Eateries and similar establishments including restaurants, cafes, and Greek taverns will be closed but take out service and delivery services may continue.

Social and public gatherings, whether indoor or outdoor are prohibited, including public or private functions in town squares, dams, picnic areas, and marinas.

Only on Easter Sunday on May 2, in addition to the official residents of a household, the presence in the homes of other people is allowed provided that they come from only two family households and that the total number of people in the house does not exceed 10 persons, including minors.

Religious ceremonies including weddings, christenings, and funerals are allowed with a maximum number of 10 people in attendance, while believers in places of worship are permitted for the purposes of individual prayer and with a maximum number of 10 people inside.

At least 20% of staff in public services are subject to mandatory remote work, with the exception of essential and other services to be determined by another Decree published here only in Greek.

The Cabinet also decided to increase mandatory rapid detection tests on a weekly basis to 50% of employees.

Additional measures during the lockdown include closings of restaurants except takeout and delivery, closures of theaters, gyms, barbershops and hair salons, spas and beauty parlors, dancing schools, tutoring schools, as well as betting shops and casinos.

Personal athletic training is allowed in outdoor areas where access is allowed under the Decree with a maximum of two people during a session.

Immunity proof after lockdown

The health minister said the lockdown measures will be lifted on May 10, the day where those going to gathering places will be required to prove they have immunity against COVID-19.

Gathering places under the new requirements include restaurants, gym, retail shops, and theatres, where people must have in their possession results of a rapid test or PCR test valid for 72 hours or have been vaccinated with at least the first dose at least three weeks prior, or have been ill with the coronavirus disease in the last 3 months.

Ioannou stated that the adoption of the above immunity regulation will provide for “easier and safer movement and will allow us to return safely to more normal conditions.”


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