Cyprus re-introduced tough measures to contain a new surge of the coronavirus infections, including wearing masks in all indoor public places, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced on Friday.
After the meeting chaired by President Nicos Anastasiades, which approved the measures, Ioannou told a press conference that the additional restrictions were considered necessary to check a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 cases centered in the southern city of Limassol.
The minister said that those who failed to observed the rules liable to a fine of 300 euros.
President Anastasiades warned that failure in respecting the measures will lead to stricter ones with serious financial repercussions.
Cyprus came out of a 10-week lockdown at the beginning of June, with the government spending about 10 percent of the gross domestic product to support businesses and workers.
“I call on everyone to respect what our people with sacrifices have achieved, to responsibly observe the decisions of the government… as well as the excellent scientific team that advises the government,” Anastasiades said in a written statement.
The epidemiological team reported nearly 40 new cases in the last four days, with many of them detected in random sampling of people among the community. About half of the new cases were detected in Limassol.
The health minister said social gatherings of more than 10 people will not be allowed in Limassol, adding the maximum number of customers in restaurants, cafes and bars has been cut by half to 75 indoors and 150 outdoors. The measure will be in place for the next three weeks.
According to Ioannou, the daily random coronavirus tests at airports will be increased from 600 to 1,000, mainly focusing on Cypriots returning from holidays. “As it emerged that the biggest percentage of cases concerns locals with a travel history,” explained the minister.
He criticized the irresponsible behaviors by some people, saying “the lifting of many restrictions has led to many ignoring the personal protection regulation and social distancing while people who should have been self-isolating did not do so.”
Ioannou said the authorities will also intensify checks in businesses, restaurants and other premises “with explicit instructions for zero tolerance”.
The Transport, Communications and Works Ministry also announced that in addition to the mask wearing requirement, buses in Limassol will run at half of their capacity.
The restrictions were announced as the authorities are bracing for arrivals of people as of Saturday from Britain.
Britain, the biggest tourism market for Cyprus and also a country with a large Cypriot community, has been categorized in travel Group B countries, meaning that travelers have to present a certificate for a negative coronavirus test.