The health ministry on Monday responded to five questions regarding the new restriction measures that are to affect the island until mid-December.
1. On what grounds were the decisions on the measures based and what is their purpose?
Taking into account psychological and social factors and in order to ensure the functioning of society with the least possible impact on the daily lives of citizens, it was decided to adopt a bundle of measures that will extend until December 13, in order to give sufficient time for the measures to be effective and to allow for an improvement to the epidemiological situation.
The measures focus mainly on reducing a person's close contacts, but also on reducing the movement and mobility of citizens. At the same time, the measures limit the areas and activities where there can be people at the same place at the same time, which allows for an easier transmission of the virus.
2. Why are 75 people allowed to attend church?
The presence of 75 people is the maximum, which also applies to other closed spaces (such as restaurants, conference and meeting rooms) where people gather. The maximum limit of 75 persons in churches and places of religious worship is applied in parallel with the other conditions and instructions that are included in the relevant protocol, such as the rule that people must be seated and wear masks. In addition to the 75-person maximum, a place of worship can accept one person per square metres, and therefore if it has a total indoor area of 150sqm, only 50 people can be allowed to attend.
3. What is the reasoning behind allowing 75 people to attend church/places of worship but only allowing 10 people to attend weddings, baptisms and funerals?
The limit of 10 people applies to all social gatherings, as well as to gatherings of people in homes. Weddings, baptisms and funerals are considered social gatherings, and due to the emotional charge and the social interchange that marks such events, they are considered as having high risks of transmission.
Through the tracing of contacts during the previous period, it was revealed that large numbers of cases had occurred after funerals, weddings and baptisms, something that made it difficult to investigate them, but also to limit the spread.
4. Why was it decided to suspend the operation of specific businesses such as gyms and limit the opening hours of restaurants?
Due to the nature of the activity that goes on in gyms, they are classified as areas where the risk of transmission is incredibly high (risk category ‘red’) by the ECDC and the WHO. In addition, due to the fact that athletes are allowed to exercise without wearing masks and fully complying with protection measures, they are considered areas with an increased degree of transmission of the virus.
Regarding restaurants and catering facilities, in many countries such as the United Kingdom, catering establishments were among the first to either cease operations or operate with restrictions from September due to the high risk of transmission. In Cyprus in the recent period, chains of cases have been recorded at such facilities, making it very difficult to trace contacts and to stop the spread of the virus. At the same time, restaurants and catering facilities can operate until 7pm, allowing for a limiting of the movements of the public and avoiding overcrowding.
5. Why are children's extracurricular activities prohibited while schools remain open?
The operation of the schools is governed by protocols and guidelines, and their implementation is observed with great care. Therefore, the situation within school units is under control and there is a procedure that is applied in case a case is detection. At the same time, children sharing classes form bubbles, helping the process of tracking down and reducing the number of close contacts.
On the other hand, at extracurricular sports, social and other activities, children from different schools gather and can allow the spread of the virus across schools, resulting in an out of control transmission of the virus.