NICOSIA — With Cyprus opening to tourists who can show they are free of COVID-19, the government has now imposed a two-week lockdown and night curfew in a bid to slow cases that are rising again.
There has been a surge on the island, cutting into hopes for a return of tourists to help an economy struggling under previous closings of non-essential businesses during a more than year-long pandemic.
Since March 2020, Cyprus has recorded 59,792 cases of COVID-19, and 296 deaths, putting the lockdown in place on April 26 to May 9 for now, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told reporters, said the news agency Reuters.
A nighttime curfew will start at 9 p.m., from 11 p.m. previously, and run until 5 a.m. the next day. People who do not have a permit to go to their place of employment will be allowed outdoors only once a day.
But the lockdown will be broken for May 1 to let limited numbers attend church services the night before Easter, although other church services have been shut off during the holiday period.
Businesses including hairdressers, gyms, theaters and cafes must close again, along with retail businesses with the exception of food and beverage or essential services, the report said.
“We are at a particularly difficult phase in the pandemic,” Ioannou said without explaining why if that’s the case that people will be allowed to go to church the night before Easter or how they could be kept at safe distances.
The government said it will now speed vaccinations in a bid to get 60 percent of the population inoculated in a bid to bring herd immunity and try to slow the continuing spread of the Coronavirus.