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Description of the measures taken to achieve “social distancing” (curfew, lockdown, mandatory shop closures, duration etc.) and how these measures are accepted by the public

The following measures have been imposed by way of a decree of the Minister of Health in an effort to contain the spread of the virus:

On 16th March 2020 the Cyprus government declared a State of Emergency. 

Since the declaration of the state of emergency, Cyprus was an almost total “lockdown”.

Movement is restricted to those who obtain (by sms) prior approval to leave their homes provided that they can bring themselves within a fixed of reasons. These are:

  • Visiting a supermarket / food outlet or pharmacy
  • Visiting aa doctor or retail outlet for essential items e.g. medical supplies
  • Exercise, or exercising a pet within your own vicinity
  • Visiting somebody in self-quarantine or someone who cannot look after themselves for the purposes of assistance
  • Going to a family wedding, christening, funeral etc (maximum of ten persons)
  • Visiting a bank / atm machine

Those persons leaving their home must either obtain an sms consent or must carry documents evidencing that they comply with one of the reasons. The only exemption to the above is persons travelling to work and who are in possession of an employer’s certificate stating that they need to be at work. 

The 3oth March saw a further significant strengthening of the coronavirus containment measures by the Cypriot Government in the light of 35 new positive cases in the last 48 hours. These are:

(a)   A curfew from (pm to 6am each day.

(b)   Ban on travelling between towns

(c)    Ban on visits. Only the usual residents are permitted in each house

(d)   Only one excursion from the house is permitted each day for a maximum of either one or two hours depending upon the reason for the excursion. Prior approval by sms request and approval is obligatory for all those under 65. All those over 65 may carry a piece of paper stating the time they left home their id card number and their postal code.

(e)   Excursions for exercise / walking pets must be within a radius of 950m from the residence 

The only exceptions to the above are for persons travelling to and from work. Persons travelling to and from work must be in possession of their id card and a certificate from the employer stating that it is necessary for that person to work from the site of his employment, the hours of working and the district that his work is located in.

The reasons for the clampdown are family gatherings which are spreading the virus to dangerous levels with 6 deaths and 225 confirmed cases.

Cyprus has a population of 1m and as a result it as only only 35 ICUs of which 21 are occupied with Coronavirus patients and another 4 by non-coronavirus patients. The situation is therefore borderline and any noticeable increase in infections will lead to a disproportionate amount of deaths having in mind the population.

All hotels, airlines, construction sites all retail goods and services outlets such as hairdressers, spas, casinos, betting shops, cinemas etc have been ordered by decree of the Minster of health to close.

The only businesses permitted to stay open for the public are chemists, supermarkets, bakeries, butchers, grocers, convenience stores and for some inexplicable reason florists*. The public areas of cafes and restaurants have been ordered to close. These outlets are only permitted to sell to the public on a takeaway or delivery basis.

As part of the containment measures outlined above many businesses have been obliged to cease operations altogether such as hotels, hair dressers, spas, cinemas, casinos, gymnasiums, all sports facilities, building sites and a number of other businesses where persons may congregate in groups of over two people such as car showrooms, cycle shops, betting shops etc.

Additionally, all public and private nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and hospital outpatient departments have been ordered to close.

Remote working or advanced paid annual leave are the order of the day the norm for 80% of the services sector.

Further, all inward passenger flights to Cyprus and entries to Cyprus ports have been stopped and the crossing points between the unoccupied south of Cyprus and the occupied north have also been closed.

Strict government quarantine for 14 days for all persons entering Cyprus from 18th March 202 have been imposed along with self-monitored quarantine measures also of 14 days for those who entered Cyprus before then.

The number of positive coronavirus cases is however rising, not at an alarming rate admittedly, around 15-20 people a day in a population of 1m people, but sufficient to make people very aware of not only the risk of infection but more significantly the greater risk of having to put of having to put oneself into the hands the health service for a life threatening condition.

This has resulted in a high level of obedience to the containment measures and 70% to 90% remote working in the services sector and almost all retail outlets (other than those providing essential supplies) and factories being closed.