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Society

Cyprus Lifting COVID-19 Local Lockdowns But Not Curfew

November 29, 2020

NICOSIA — Lockdowns on the coastal cities of Limassol and Paphos aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 are being eased but an eight-hour nighttime curfew is being imposed from Nov. 30 to Dec. 13, from 9 p.m.-5 a.m.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou made the announcement, said The Cyprus Mail, changing the measures that had seen the capital Nicosia and other towns under a six-hour night curfew that began at 11 p.m.

Hard-hit Limassol and Paphos had a near total lockdown on movements by residents, with businesses closed as Ioannou said the government is moving away from local lockdowns toward state-wide measures in hopes of easing them ahead of Christmas and the holidays, the paper said.

"This year's holidays will be unprecedented, but we must protect our public health system and the ones we love," Ioannou told reporters although the tough measures mean bars, restaurants, pubs, cafes and other hospitality venues must shut nationwide at 7 p.m. They had been allowed to stay open until 10:30 p.m. outside Limassol and Paphos. Only food delivery is allowed after 7 p.m.

Schools can return to normal in lockdown areas, but gyms everywhere will have to close while retail stores, shopping malls, hair salons, cinemas, theaters and museums will operate under tightened social distancing rules.

That comes as the number of cases was nearing 10,000 but with the government wanting to try to keep the battered economy from taking another hit ahead of the critical holiday shopping period when many people are reluctant to go out.

Ioannou said there would be relaxations for the Christmas holidays if the situation improves, including a loosening of the curfew, and later closing times for hospitality venues between Dec. 14 to Jan. 17, 2021.

But he also warned that policies could become tighter if the Coronavirus caseload increases after a tight lockdown earlier this year held down the number of cases and deaths but soaring after many people ignored health protocols and weren't wearing masks or staying safe social distances from each other.

Face masks are mandatory indoors and outdoors, except at home, while household gatherings are limited to 10 people, as are weddings and funerals, the paper said.

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