Seeing a spike in cases of COVID-19 after the pandemic had been held relatively in check through much of the end of 2019, Cyprus is resorting to a second lockdown – except its airports and ports bringing in travelers – to try to regain control.
There will be tighter restrictions on movements and closing of battered businesses who had been resisting measures keeping them shut, as well as residents worn out by seeing their movement limited.
Schools are being shut again after the government said a nightly curfew and existing measures weren’t working well enough and Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said intensive care units treating Covid-19 patients have reached their limits and tougher restrictions are needed to prevent "people dying helpless because we don't have available beds."
The new measures began Jan. 10 and will let people go out only twice a day with approval required and only kindergarten, pre-school or those serving students with special needs can open, others closed and teaching moved online.
The country's 9 p.m. -5 a.m. curfew is being extended to the end of the month, as is a ban on public and private gatherings, again shutting hair and beauty salons, theaters, cinemas, shopping malls, gyms, nightclubs, restaurants and playgrounds.
Churches will be allowed to hold services without worshippers, and only first division soccer teams will be allowed to continue playing with no explanation why that’s not a risk of spreading the Coronavirus.
Despite going to a lockdown, it won’t be as severe as a first imposed in April and May 2020 which were successful in containing cases, the government not saying why terms this time around are more lenient
Civil servants must work from home although it wasn’t said how people could get documents from the state as needed and a maximum of 20 employees are being allowed to work at the premises of private companies. Families will also be allowed three-hour excursions to the beach for some exercise.
Infections have multiplied much faster in Cyprus during the last couple of months compared to earlier in the year, partly because of the new coronavirus variant first identified in Britain, Ioannou also said.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)