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22 September, 2020
 
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President summons health team to Palace

Anastasiades wants to hear directly from scientists before announcing ease of restrictions

Newsroom

President Nicos Anastasiades has called the government's team of health experts back to the Presidential Palace for face-to--face consultations, amid reports that the government is a day away from taking crucial decisions on easing Covid-19 restrictions.

Local experts on the epidemiology task force, which has been consulting the administration on public health issues during the coronavirus pandemic, have been summoned to the Presidential Palace on Tuesday morning, just one day ahead of a crucial Cabinet meeting.

Local media have speculated that Anastasiades, who is expected to announce on Wednesday a government plan for a gradual ease of decree restrictions, was under pressure by lobbying groups vying for a spot in the first of four phases of easing virus curbs on businesses.

But government spokesperson Kyiacos Koushos, who was a guest on a state-radio early Tuesday morning, denied that Anastasiades was under pressure “from anyone or for anything.”

Some ministers have relayed the health team's recommendations to the president, but they reportedly were not on the same page in terms of lifting specific restrictive measures

“The assessments and advice of the science experts are being taken seriously in evaluating the situation or making certain decisions regarding the restart of the economy or the ease of movement restrictions,” Koushos said.

According to Kathimerini Cyprus, specific recommendations had been relayed earlier to the president, whose full cabinet is expected to meet on Wednesday in order to take “important decisions.”

But ministers on a sub-committee, which advises the president directly, reportedly were not on the same page in terms of lifting specific restrictive measures.

Leondios Kostrikis, a virology professor at the University of Cyprus and government consultant, said easing restrictions could be done gradually based on epidemiological data, while also clarifying specific decisions on how to gradually phase out decree measures would be left to the country’s political leadership.

Reports citing sources and leaked information said the initial stage included a possible increase on the limit to text messages for legitimate outings from currently one to possibly two or even three per day. Additional reports said small retail businesses and construction warehouses could also operate in the first stage.

But it remained unclear whether barber shops and hair salons were on the list, with initial reports saying the re-opening of these establishments, including beauty salons and massage parlors, was assigned to the second phase. Hotels and shopping malls are expected to open in the final stages.

Discussions on easing similar restrictions were taking place in the north of the island, where wearing face masks in public is mandatory according to Turkish Cypriot media.

In the south, Anastasiades is expected to hear directly from the scientists on Tuesday morning at 10am, one day ahead of a full Cabinet meeting, with the president expected make announcements later on Wednesday.

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