Cyprus activates plan for second stage of restriction easing

Cyprus’ Council of Ministers on Tuesday activated the planning for the second stage of easing the COVID-19 restrictions as of May 21, government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said.

Kousios said after a cabinet meeting that minor changes to the original planning were approved, relating to the opening earlier than planned of organized beaches and also of betting shops.

The reopening of ports, archaeological sites, museums and libraries was put off to June 1.

“Measures are being relaxed under the condition that people continue to take protective measures and follow the protocols issued by the Ministry of Health,” Kousios added.

Announcing just one new COVID-19 case on Tuesday, Health Ministry advisor, virologist Leondios Kostrikis, said the scientific team advising the ministry has every reason to be satisfied with the development of the pandemic.

“The excellent epidemiological picture allows us to proceed to the second phase of lifting restrictions as of Thursday,” he added.

Kousios confirmed that elementary schools and gymnasiums will reopen and that all restrictions on movement, including a night curfew, imposed on March 30, will come to an end on May 21.

Under the government’s plan, people will also be allowed to visit relatives and friends and to move freely in parks (but not in playgrounds), squares and marinas, as long as they remain in groups of under 10 people.

Restaurants will start receiving customers in open spaces and in groups of less than 10 people, and hairdressers, barbershops, beauty salons, massage and tattoo parlors will also reopen.

Religious services in churches, mosques and other places of worship will be allowed as of Saturday, along with weddings and funerals with free attendance.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said that at a teleconference of European Union (EU) foreign ministers convened by his German counterpart Heiko Maas, Cyprus had been asked to provide its planning for the reactivation of tourism.

He added that services and interested organizations will receive detailed plans and security protocols by Monday for the tourism sector, which he said will restart sooner in June than originally planned.

Christodoulides said the epidemiological situation, which ranks Cyprus first among EU countries and fifth in the world, allows for dates for tourism reactivation to be brought forward.

He added that a detailed travel advice will be issued for each country, with the corresponding country also issuing its own travel advice.