"The pandemic concerns everyone and with more than three thousand cases per day in our small population, it means COVID is threatening each and every one of us", said Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela announcing the new measures decided upon in an extraordinary session of the cabinet on Wednesday evening.
"The epidemiological indicators in the last days present a rapid deterioration with the possibility that hospitalizations will increase in state hospitals in the next few days", the Minister told reporters after his ministry announced that new infections shot to 3002 on Wednesday, surpassing every record since COVID appeared.
The minister said the positivity rate is above 2.5% and only in the last three days, 7,168 new cases were recorded within the community. “Omicron mutation is now well in the community and is expected to further burden the epidemiological situation”, he added.
Hadjipantela criticized the lack of personal protective measures and lack of measures at establishments for the spike in recent days. “Unfortunately, data indicate that many citizens do not adhere to personal protective measures while dozens of establishments and nightclubs do not follow health protocols which result in overcrowding”.
He said the members of the Scientific Advisory Committee agreed to review the situation next Tuesday, depending on the outcome of the epidemiological indicators.
For this reason, the Cabinet, he said, during its extraordinary meeting, decided to tighten measures at the country’s entry points, abolish safe passes to all those who have not completed their vaccination course and take additional measures to limit transmission in areas where people are crowding.
- With effect from 4 January to 15 January 2022, passengers arriving in the Republic of Cyprus are required to present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before their departure. And, regardless of their vaccination history, all passengers will be required to undergo a PCR laboratory test upon arrival at their own cost.
- From January 3, 2022, teleworking will be applied to 40% of the staff of each company or organization in the service sector. More information will be provided on Thursday regarding the essential services that will be exempted.
- From 30th December 2021, entrance to nightclubs, music and dance clubs, banquet venues, weddings, christenings will be allowed only upon presentation of a 24-hour Rapid Test. Entry is allowed only to vaccinated people. Citizens who received the booster/3rd dose of the vaccine are excluded from this requirement.
- In addition, from 30 December 2021, there will be a maximum limit of 300 persons for restaurants, nightclubs, and music and dance clubs in compliance with health protocols. People should be seated and dancing is prohibited. As specified, the measure for weddings and baptisms will be implemented from January 3, 2022.
- From 30 December 2021, stadiums are allowed 50% capacity and the mandatory use of facemasks will be implemented.
- Also from 30 December 2021, visits are prohibited at state and private hospitals as well as closed facilities, unless approval is provided by the management after the presentation of a negative laboratory PCR test with a 24-hour validity, and only for urgent and exceptional cases. Visits to outpatient departments are allowed to patients and escorts with a negative rapid test taken within the last 24 hours. Individuals who received a booster/3rd dose of the COVID vaccine are excluded.
- The cabinet also decided that from December 30, 2021, there will be a change in COVID-19 case management protocols and close contacts for healthcare professionals, specifically for those who either have not received any of the vaccination doses or those who have completed their vaccine course with either the single or double dose vaccine but have not received the booster dose within the seven month validity period.
- Close contacts of a confirmed case will be required on the 5th day to undergo a PCR and on the 6th day a Rapid test. Both tests must be negative in order to end their isolation. Positive coronavirus cases can undergo a Rapid test on the 6th and 7th day and if the result is negative, they can be released on the 8th day, provided that they do not show symptoms for 48 hours.
The cabinet is also recommending that citizens use double surgical masks or high protection masks (KN95 or type FFP2) and avoid the use of a cloth protective face mask.
The use of the protective mask is mandatory in all areas, indoor and outdoor.
In conclusion, the minister said, “We must understand that it is essential to follow the measures to protect ourselves. Only in this way will we be able to return to normalcy the soonest possible”.