NICOSIA - With among the lowest number of cases and fatalities in the world, Cyprus Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou hopes said that could lead to a lockdown aimed at fighting the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus could end by July.
That's dependent on the number of cases staying down as the lockdown has proved effective, as it has in Greece, and Ioannou warned that until a vaccine is discovered “we will have to learn to live with the coronavirus.”
“We will go ahead with a gradual easing of measures. I hope that in two to three months all measures will be lifted,” Ioannou told the Cyprus News Agency, adding that the gradual easing of measures will be evaluated on the basis of epidemiological evidence.
“If on the basis of the evaluation we are on a good track and we can proceed with a gradual but controlled easing of measures, I hope that in two to three months we will return to normality,” he said.
Cyprus depends heavily on tourism, especially in the summer, with worries that the effect of the pandemic could be devastating on the economy with the lockdown closing non-essential businesses, including hotels and summer resorts.
He said that when the lockdown ends that it's expected there will be an initial rise in cases as people come together again, with no way to insure they keep social distancing recommendations to stay at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) or more from each other.
Ioannou clarified that no decision has yet to be taken on the date of easing the lockdown nor on the economic sectors which will begin to operate again.
“What I can tell you is that as a general rule, businesses or economic sectors which have to do with people will be the last to open…the more contact a business has with people, the later it will start operating again.”
He said that businesses should stick to health protocols when they reopen as other countries, such as Greece, saying there should be a limit on customers in stores and that they should stay away from each other while shopping or at the cashier's stand.
“Self-protection measures must become part of our daily routine and we must continue to take them,” he said.
He added: “Whatever measures we may take in Cyprus, the virus knows no borders, therefore once airports begin to operate again the danger of importing the virus again and in great numbers will always be there.”