On 29th of April, the Council of Ministers will convene to make decisions for the gradual easing of the restrictions that have been taken by our country, in order to deal with the COVID – 19 epidemics.

In the last few days, the number of people who have been affected by the virus in the country has decreased. That means that citizens of Cyprus have complied with the restrictive measures imposed by the government. The epidemiological surveillance unit of the ministerial committee expects to examine the number of the cases and any potential spread of the virus that might have taken place due to the Easter Holidays.  If the case statistics remain at a low level, then the gradual easing lift of the restrictions will be expected in early May.

Minister of Finance, Mr Constantinos Petrides mentioned that the European Commission issued guidelines in order to help the member states achieve an effective exit from the lockdown.  Also, he noted the importance of the collaboration of all the member states, in order to avoid any negative impact on the market of any state and the significance of the reoperation of the single market.

The lift of the restrictions, proposed by the epidemiological surveillance unit will consist of three phases, which would be applied with a time difference of 15 days between, after evaluation of the current situation. The transition from the one stage to another is determined by the epidemiological criteria, the adequacy of the health system and the monitoring on a regular basis through an extended number of tests to the public.

As mentioned, the de-escalation of measures will be gradual.

As a first move by the government, the relaxation of the protective measures is expected to increase the number of times that the public is allowed to travel for permitted reasons from one to three times per day, but only if the daily number of cases, remains at low levels. It is noted that today, people are allowed to travel once per day for very specific reasons such as for grocery shopping, visiting the pharmacy etc.

Regarding the restarting of the economy, the epidemiological surveillance unit will propose the opening of the construction sites, the retail businesses (such as shops selling clothes, shoes, electrics, electronics and books) and the small and medium-sized businesses, as long as all the health measures are observed against the spread of the virus.  Malls are expected to open later and a framework would be set, in order to control the number of the people gathered at the place.

The second phase of the lift of the restrictions is expected in the middle of May and it consists of the opening of hair salons, barbershops, beauty salons and gyms, as long as all the health measures are observed regarding the number of people gathered in one place and the rules of personal hygiene is followed.

The third phase is expected in early June and it consists of the reopening of hotels, malls, restaurants and coffee shops. Cinemas, theatres, casinos, clubs and churches are expected to reoperate at that time, also.

Furthermore, there is a suggestion to reopen the airports in early June with restrictions on the flights abroad and depending on the situation in other countries. It is estimated that concerts, weddings, christenings and funerals will be allowed by that time.

Regarding the opening of the crossing points, most likely this will take place at the second or third phase but this depends on the evaluation of the situation at that time and the results of the epidemiological data.

It is underlined that all the above are suggestions of the epidemiological surveillance unit based on the current situation and they will be imposed on the President of the Republic.  The Council of Ministers will convene on 29th of April and they will announce the final decisions regarding the gradual lifting of the restrictions if the conditions are not overturned by that time.