Addressing the nation on Monday night for the second time since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Cyprus in early March, President Nicos Anastasiades announced that all unnecessary travel will be banned as of 6pm on Tuesday until April 13.
“We are at war,” Anastasiades said. “A war that does enlist our children to take lives with the use of weapons. It is a war that is only won if we stay in our shelters.”
Anastasiades added that the unprecedented challenge posed by the “invisible enemy” of coronavirus, meant that a series of harsh and strict measures needed to be taken.
“Despite the measures, the sacrifices of thousands of workers, the pain of parents whose children remain abroad, behaviours of carelessness and that lack self-respect, responsibility, and solidarity, are being observed by a portion of the public. Behaviours that expose the entire population to deadly risk.”
Anastasiades added that scientists advising the government raised the alarm that if the public does fully conform to the measures there will be asymmetrical consequences for the public.
“An out-of-control outbreak will lead to the collapse of the health system, however well-structured it may be, as it will not be able to meet the needs that will arise.”
According to the televised address of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, due to the nature of the ‘invisible enemy’ and in view of the careless behaviour observed by a portion of the public, the inter-ministerial committee that convened on Monday chaired by Anastasiades decided on the following measures:
1. Prohibition of unnecessary travel from 6pm of March 24 2020 until April 13. Only the following reasons for travel are excluded from the ban:
- Travel to and from workplaces
- Travel to purchase essential items from businesses or stores that are allowed to operate and that cannot deliver the items
- Visiting a doctor or a pharmacy
- Visiting the bank if an electronic transaction is not possible
- Visiting others with the aim of assisting them, given that those who are being visited are unable to take care of themselves or are part of vulnerable groups or are in self-isolation and/or quarantine facilities
- The attendance of ceremonies such as funerals, weddings and christenings by first and second degree relatives, given those present do not exceed 10 persons
- Leaving the house for a run or to take pets on walks, provided that this not done in groups of more than two people and that these travels are confined to each person's neighbourhood
Those leaving the house for any of the above reasons should carry identification at all times, as well as additional proof of the purpose of their travel.
Anastasiades said that further details on the method of inspections will be announced by the authorities at later on.
2. Also as of 6pm of March 24 2020 until April 13, the following spaces will be closed to the public:
- Open sports grounds
- Public meeting places, including squares, dams, excursion sites, beaches, marinas
3. All retail businesses shall suspend their operations except those listed in a relevant decree to be issued by the Minister of Health within the day.
According to preliminary information, businesses that will be exempt from the ban are supermarkets, bakeries, kiosks, fish markets, meat markets, pharmacies, shops selling items for disabilities, pet shops, car parts shops, car and motorbike garages, tyre shops, opticians, post offices, and telecommunication retail stores that will only serve the payment of bills.
4. Open air markets, bazaars and street vending are banned.
5. Works on sites other than public utility works shall be terminated, subject to the permission of the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works.
6. It is forbidden for citizens to attend religious places, such as churches, mosques or other places of worship.
7. Prohibition of the custom of the Easter bonfire called ‘lambradjia’, while wood or other materials already collected for this purpose will be immediately removed. Responsibility for enforcing the ban lies with local authorities in cooperation with the police.
The President stressed that the government will not be merciful on those violate the new measures, with violators to be issued a fine of €150.
Additional measures to support the healthcare system
According to Anastasiades, the inter-ministerial meeting also decided on a series of measures to strengthen and support the healthcare system on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic:
- Authorized testing for the detection of coronavirus will be expanded to include clinical, biomedical, and university laboratories. Details will be provided by a statement that will follow by the Ministry of Health
- In the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, the government has decided to utilize graduates of four-year or six-year medical school programmes offered by Cyprus universities, as well as graduates of nursing programmes in the framework of an internship
- For more effective prevention and treatment, the number of public health clinics in all cities will be increased
“I recognize that the above additional measures will further affect the daily lives of each and every one of us,” Anastasiades said, noting that the measures were a “painful but necessary” step for the benefit of the health of the population as a whole.
Regarding students stranded abroad, Anastasiades stressed that as soon as conditions permit, the government will move to steadily repatriate those who wish to return to the island, with priority given to vulnerable groups.
Addressing the thousands of workers and employers of small and medium-sized businesses and the self-employed, Anastasiades conveyed the government’s determination to genuinely support them.
“Within days, with the help of the political forces I warmly thank, a package of measures will be announced that will not only relieve but also create the prospect of a short return to the pre-crisis situation,” Anastasiades said.
“In closing, I want to express my absolute belief that we will succeed in this battle. My faith and hope are sustained and strengthened daily by the front-line heroes who are now no other than health professionals and others who assist in the state's struggle against the dangers of the invisible but not invincible enemy,” Anastasiades added.
Finally, the President issued an urged call to the public to stay home, noting that if this happens, “we will succeed.”