NICOSIA — Cyprus further tightened its pandemic restrictions on Wednesday, reducing the number of people permitted at social gatherings and mandating virus testing for schoolteachers and all inbound travelers over 12 amid surging COVID-19 infections.
Cypriot Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said after a Cabinet meeting that teachers, students and staff will need to produce a negative rapid test taken within two days prior to their return from Christmas and New Year holidays on Jan. 10.
Moreover, all primary school pupils will need to produce a negative rapid test twice weekly.
As of Thursday, all travelers to Cyprus over 12 from anywhere in the world must show a negative PCR test taken two days prior to boarding. Any traveler refusing to undergo a compulsory PCR test on arrival to Cyprus will be placed in a 14-day quarantine but can leave after a week as long as they take the test. Quarantine and testing expenses will be borne by the traveler.
As of next week, the maximum number of people at restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other gathering points including churches is reduced to 200, while dancing remains prohibited. Gatherings at home are limited to 10 people, not counting kids under 12.
The percentage of people able to work from home is raised to 50%, while anyone staying at hotels must have started their vaccination shots.
Some 5,450 people tested positive for the coronavirus — mainly the omicron variant — out of the roughly 123,000 rapid tests carried out on Tuesday.
Cypriot health authorities said 78% of those requiring hospital treatment for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, but say the health care system can still manage new admissions because of the relatively low cases of serious illness.