The health ministry on Friday clarified that 12 categories of people are exempted from the travel ban enforced on the Limassol and Paphos districts until the end of the month, but said that as of next Wednesday, November 18, each person wanting to get through the roadblocks will have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than seven days prior.
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New restriction measures that came into force on Thursday saw partial lockdowns imposed on the Limassol and Paphos districts, where the majority of new coronavirus cases were detected in the island’s recent pandemic flare-up.
After widespread agitation by both the public and businesses that would be affected by the ban on travel into and out of the Limassol and Paphos districts, the health ministry stepped in to clarify the exemptions that would be allowed for vital services and certain groups of people and employees.
Police and the army, that has been deployed to assist in maintaining the nine roadblocks set up at entry points into the districts under lockdown, will be making exceptions for workers travelling for professional purposes, people travelling for medical reasons, and others travelling to airports, provided they can present adequate proof.
But on Friday, the health ministry said that from 5am next Wednesday, those who fall under the permitted exceptions will be required to present proof of a negative PCR coronavirus test, that should have been taken no more than seven days prior to crossing through the roadblocks. The tests must also be taken from one of the registered private labs listed by the government.
The cost of these tests must be shouldered by employers, while the health ministry said a cap of €75 has been imposed for coronavirus tests.
So far a number of roadblock areas have been made public, with police spokesperson Christos Andreou saying there would be checks in Stavros tis Psokas towards Kykkos, Pomos towards Pachyammos, Governor’s Beach, Oras, Agios Nicolaos in Paphos, Pissouri towards Paphos, Palaichori towards Agros, Karvounas road, and Prodromos.
Long ques form at roadblocks
With roadblocks being activated at 12pm on Friday, highways leading into the two districts under lockdown quickly clogged up, with police stating every effort is being made to make checks on people going in and out are swift.
Additionally, police said they are aware that people may attempt to find alternative routes to evade the travel ban, such as through forest roads, but expressed confidence that these drivers will be cut off by patrols.
In total, 17 police officers are manning the Limassol-Nicosia roadblock, while five more are stationed in Avdimou, an additional five are on the old Nicosia-Limassol highway, while five patrols are scanning other areas.
Government responds to public reaction over use of soldiers
Government spokesman Kyriakos Koushios said Friday that that deployment of 40 soldiers to ensure the implementation of the stricter measures was done only for the purpose of assisting the police due to its limited manpower in view of the increasing responsibilities the force must now take on.
Koushios said similar practices have been implemented in many other European countries, including France, Italy, and Germany, stressing that “we consider reactions from not only AKEL but from others too as unjustified given the circumstances.”
On Thursday, justice minister Emily Yiolitis said the government’s aim is not enforce a police or military state, stressing the army’s role was solely to contribute and assist in the observation of measures.