New covid measures have been announced today following the meeting of the Minister of Health and the Scientific Advisory Committee this morning.
According to the Minister of Health, Michalis Hadjipantelas, suggestions to ease current measures were put forward by the Scientific Advisory Committee this morning, which were subsequently conveyed to the cabinet who in turn approved the new measures.
In his statements, the Minister said "in recent days there has been a stabilization of epidemiological markers coupled with a significant reduction of pressure to the health system, allowing us a restrained sense of optimism for the course of the pandemic. We recognize that stability is not guaranteed and despite all our efforts, both collectively and personally, the epidemiological picture can change at any time. That is why our scientific team is constantly monitoring the epidemiological signs and their course".
The Minister of Health added, "our steps, however, must be steady and premeditated because, as other countries have shown, there is a risk to revert to our situation in the past. We continue to heed the wishes and of our citizens while making every effort to return to normality in the safest possible way".
Therefore, the Cabinet has decided the following:
(a) from 21 February 2022, unvaccinated individuals and those who have yet to complete their vaccination course will be allowed in restaurants, nightclubs, music and dance centers, stadiums, theaters, cinemas, auditoriums, weddings, baptisms and hotel accommodation or tourist accommodation. Entry will only be allowed upon presentation of a SafePass (24-hour Rapid Antigen Detection Test).
(b) from 21 February 2022, the maximum number of people allowed in restaurants, entertainment centers, music and dance centers, weddings and baptisms, will be 250 persons (up from 200). The increase of capacity in these venues is allowed in compliance with the health protocols and the maximum number of persons per square meter.
(c) from 21 February 2022, the maximum number of people allowed per table in restaurants, nightclubs, music and dance centers, weddings and baptisms will be 12 persons (up from 8).
(d) from 21 February 2022, the maximum number of people allowed in at-home gatherings will be increased to 20 (up from 10), not including children up to 12 years old.
(e) the ban on dancing at venues has been lifted. In addition, the allowed maximum number of persons at these venues will increase based on the implementation of safety protocols approved by the Scientific Advisory Committee. For questions and information, businesses should contact the relevant department of the Ministry of Health.
(f) from 21 February 2022, children aged 4 and above who attend kindergarten and pre-school are required to take a rapid antigen test (Rapid test) once a week.
(g) the "test to stay" protocol will be introduced in kindergartens and pre-primary schools (excluding nursery). The date of commencement and the manner of implementation of the measure will be announced after consultations with the responsible offices, worker's unions and the parent's associations.
(h) the "test to stay" protocol will be introduced in the Public and Educational Service arena. The date of commencement and the details of the implementation of the measure will be announced after consultations with the responsible offices and worker's unions.
(i) the "test to stay" protocol will be extended in Primary and Secondary education.
(j) from 21 February 2022, the teleworking rate for companies or organizations in the service sector, excluding essential services, will be reduced to 25% (down from 50%). The rate will include people who are on sick leave or those deemed as close contacts and are working from home. Moreover, it will also include those who have taken vacation leave.
(k) from 28 February 2022, the resumption of all surgeries that have been put on hold. The referral of emergency cases to emergency departments of private hospitals will continue in order to relieve the overcrowding at the General. It is emphasized that the referral of patients to Accidents and Emergency Departments of private hospitals will continue in order to relieve the overcrowding at the General Hospital's A&E department.
(l) from 21 February 2022, workers at daycare facilities for vulnerable groups, transitional hostels, daycare centers and child protection facilities will need to provide proof of either a negative laboratory test (PCR) valid for 72 hours or a negative Antigen detection (Rapid test) valid for 24 hours, OR a valid certificate vaccination certificate, OR a valid COVID-19 recovery certificate.
(m) from 21 February 2022, stadiums will be allowed to operate at 70% capacity.
(n) from 21 February 2022, theaters and cinemas will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity.
(o) measures will be in effect until 14 March 2022, at which time they will be re-evaluated.