Cyprus imposed new stricter coronavirus containment measures, including a partial local lockdown in two cities, following a surge of new cases, President Nicos Anastasiades announced on Wednesday.
Anastasiades said in a televised address that the partial lockdown was made inevitable as the pandemic was on the verge of getting out of control and threatened the public health system with collapse.
Anastasiades added that the southern port city of Limassol and the western tourist city of Paphos accounted for about 70 percent of the daily new COVID-19 cases, deaths and new hospitalizations.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told a press conference, immediately after Anastasiades’ address, that restaurants and recreation premises such as cafes and pubs in the two cities would be closed as of Thursday to the end of November and movement would be banned from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
He also said that travel to and from the two cities would not be allowed, while weddings and wedding dinners could only be attended by 10 people.
Ioannou added that theaters, cinemas and places of physical exercise along with barbershops, libraries and archaeological places will be closed for the duration of the lockdown.
Schools and shops will remain open, but large department stores, except supermarkets, will close down. Athletic events were also banned, while exercise in public will be allowed for two people only.
Limassol’s port will operate as a commercial one and would neither receive cruise ships nor allow disembarkation from cargo ships.
Ioannou said that the measures were decided as Cyprus’ cumulative cases grew more than three times in relation to the first phase of the pandemic from mid-March to early July.
The number of new infections rose by 165 Wednesday to a total of 6,461, while the deaths increased by four to 33.
He said patients in special COVID-19 hospitals more than doubled in the last few days, bringing COVID-19 hospitals close to their limits.
Ioannou said that measures announced at the start of the month would apply for the entire country, including a lowering of the number of people who could meet both privately and publicly, and a ban on movement from 11 p.m. to 5 p.m. would apply all over the country. Wearing a mask was also made mandatory even when walking alone in the street.
As the world is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, countries including Germany, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.
According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 3, there were 202 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 47 of them were in clinical trials.