The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the island’s lockdown exit strategy, which foresees the resumption of the operation of vital sectors of the economy in early May.
Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said the exit plan consists of three stages, which extend until the end of 2021.
Petrides urged the public to be particularly careful over the Easter holidays, so that the plan for the resumption of the economy remains viable.
“Essentially, with the pandemic still unfolding and the financial cost growing significantly, many EU countries are planning their strategy for the gradual lifting of restrictions,” Petrides said.
On Wednesday, an exit roadmap was also issued by the European Commission, urging coordination and cooperation among Member States in view of avoiding chaotic consequences that would affect the EU market as a whole.
Petrides highlighted that “a healthy and functional economy is also a necessary prerequisite for an effective healthcare system.”
Referring to the three stages included in the Cyprus exit strategy, Petrides said that the progression from one stage to the next will be determined to a great extent by epidemiological data.
The first stage, which we are currently traversing, involves the lockdown period and the government’s support programme allowing the economy to cope with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The second stage will see a gradual re-opening of certain vital businesses, which if deemed safe by epidemiological data, could begin in early May.
For the gradual opening to start, Petrides stressed that a number of conditions must be met like a flattening of the curve of new cases, the adequacy of the health system, and systematic monitoring through widespread testing.
Four more criteria will be taken into consideration, including the risk of infection, the probability of the virus causing serious illness, the importance of the sector to the economy and social life, and the ability of imposing and maintaining safety measures.
Petrides noted that measures may even begin to be applied differently for different geographical areas, groups of the population, and social and economic sectors.
The third stage of the exit plan concerns plans to restart the economy between September 2020 and December 2021.
“The strategy must be flexible and must adapt to existing epidemiological data, allowing economic activity to take place without bringing unnecessary health risks,” Petrides said.
The third stage will include support of viable businesses, measures in areas that will be affected the most, developing a digital technology sector, supporting those who can preserve the most jobs, and stimulate demand.
Ministerial committee tasked with drafting exit strategy set up
In order to see the exit strategy through, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved the formation of an inter-ministerial committee, to be chaired by the Finance Minister, which will initially be tasked with drafting the roadmap and an action plan by the end of April.
The committee will be assisted by a steering committee including members of the Health Ministry’s epidemiological unit.