NICOSIA — The Omicron Variant of COVID-19 that was expected on Cyprus but surged sooner than expected has brought more health restrictions, including banning dancing and requirement for tourists from Jan. 4-15, 2022 to show a negative molecular test taken within the previous 48 hours.
That came after another record number of cases was registered on the island and on top of a requirement for foreign visitors to also take a molecular test at the airport at their own expense, another deterrent for tourists being beckoned.
Companies will also have to have 40 percent of their staff working remotely from home and not in the office just as many were starting to return before Omicron upset the plans. That figure is twice the current rate, said Agence France-Presse (AFP) in a report on the new measures.
People must also be seated in entertainment venues while access to nightclubs, and wedding receptions will even require vaccinated patrons to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 24 hours unless they have had a third booster shot.
All hospital visits have been banned, and sports stadiums are restricted to 50 percent capacity, down from 75 percent in a further limitation on life on the island that has gone back-and-forth between easing and tightening restrictions.
The move was made after a record 3,002 cases in one day, the third in a row it had been bettered, almost triple the previous record of 1,152 cases in July when the government was trying to save tourism.
“Epidemiological indicators have rapidly deteriorated… with the possibility of an increase in hospital patient admissions,” Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas told reporters, said AFP.
“The Omicron Variant is now in the community and is expected to burden our epidemiological picture further,” he added, referring to the version that is far more contagious if less deadly than the Delta Variant.
He said that many people were no longer listening to or following health measures while “dozens of establishments and entertainment venues do not follow the health protocols,” without indicating if they were penalized.
Hadjipantelas said: “With more than 3,000 cases a day in our small population, it means that Coronavirus threatens every one of us,” the island having about some 1.2 million people.
Since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, there have been 157,928 coronavirus cases and 635 deaths with plans to slow the health crisis now also requiring wearing masks indoors and out for those over 6 years old.
Double-vaccinated employees must undergo weekly tests and unvaccinated individuals are banned from hospitality venues and nightclubs but it wasn’t said if that’s being enforced either.