The health, finance, and labour ministers of the Republic of Cyprus have been tasked to reconcile a number of issues before a Cabinet meeting on Friday, essentially stalling the announcement of new COVID measures which was expected on Thursday.
According to Government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos, President Nicos Anastasiades held a partial Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to assess proposals by the government’s pandemic task force amid elevated concerns over COVID-19 hospitalizations following previous ineffective measures.
The health minister is working on the new measures as finance and labour ministers evaluate them to decide on fiscal policy and countermeasures
“The ministers agreed on the need to take additional measures,” Koushos said, adding that Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou was working on the new measures while Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides and Labor Minister Zeta Emilianidou were to “evaluate these measures and decide on fiscal policy and new schemes” as countermeasures.
Koushos also said that experts on the task force acknowledged that Cyprus was in a much better situation regarding epidemiological figures, compared to other European countries.
The Cyprus News Agency cited its own information saying the measures were expected to “probably provide for a general lockdown as the one last March when the pandemic broke out, in order to decongest the health system, as the situation is alarming and to help curbing the transmission of the virus in the community.”
Health expert plays down the word "lockdown"
But health expert Zoi-Dorothea Pana, who spoke on state radio on Thursday morning, played down descriptions in the media referring to lockdown scenarios.
Pana, who serves as an advisor on the government’s pandemic task force, said the word “lockdown” was not the proper term to describe any new measures, clarifying there was no basis for instituting a lockdown across the board as in the previous year.
“The goal is different now, the timeline is different,” Pana said, adding that both public and private sectors need to plan ahead for the future while thinking ahead beyond a two-three week period.
Local media said new measures would most probably be in place for a minimum of three weeks, adding that supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations and possibly the construction sector would remain open while learning and working remotely were to remain crucial in education and business sectors.