President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday announced that as of Sunday, there would be a 15-day entry ban on anyone who is not a legal resident of Cyprus, an EU national working or studying on the island, or a third-country national with a permit to be here.
He also said that only Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots would be allowed to use the crossings, as well as legal residents of the Republic and members of diplomatic missions.
The stricter measures came only hours before the health services announced there were seven more confirmed cases. These concerned five people who had come in close contact with two confirmed cases in recent days. All five were in self-isolation. Another case concerns a person who was being monitored at the Limassol hospital. The seventh case is a person recently arrived from the UK, and who was also in self-isolation.
The latest cases bring the total in the government-controlled areas to 21 and five in the north.
Addressing the nation, Anastasiades conveyed the government’s determination to continue taking measures necessary to effectively lessen the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis.
The measures include a ban on entry as of Sunday for 15 days to any citizen regardless of nationality who are not Cypriot nationals, legal residents, European or third-country nationals working or studying in the Republic, nationals of countries that are in a designated diplomatic service or mission under bilateral or international conventions, and individual cases of European or third country nationals who have professional obligations that cannot be avoided, provided they have obtained authorisation from the competent ministry.
As regards crossing points, he said only Cypriot citizens both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, legal residents, and diplomatic staff would be allowed to cross. “I appeal to all the people of Cyprus, to make use of the right to cross only when it’s absolutely necessary,” Anastasiades said.
Schools will also remain closed until April 10.
During the suspension of the operation of public schools, he said the ministry of education would ensure the educational programme was covered.
“No measure, no matter how strict, can be effective unless everyone shows discipline in the implementation,” he said.
He explained that the measures were in line with recommendations of, and consultations with the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
“They are not mere suggestions but instructions for implementation,” he said.
He called on parents to be strict with their children and on the youth not to ignore the measures.
Addressing young people, he said these measures were not only for them, but also for their loved one, their siblings, parents and grandparents.
Anastasiades also called on Cypriots living abroad or on the island, to avoid unnecessary movement.
The president further underlined that, in addition to protecting the health of the people, it was also important to secure income and work by supporting workers, businesses and economically vulnerable groups.
The financial performance of recent years, he said, allows the government to take decisive action to support employees and employers and those who will be affected by the crisis. “For this reason, the government will present a complete programme to support the economy, based on the dialogue that has already taken place with the parliamentary parties and social partners.”
He also thanked health professionals for their work and expressed his sympathy to those who have fallen ill and their families and wished them speedy recovery.
Earlier in the day Anastasiades had a telephone conversation with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to discuss the situation.
“We have agreed to further strengthen mutual information through the bi-communal technical committee on health,” Anastasiades said.
On Thursday, he presided over a ministerial committee that discussed the situation and dealt with public health and safety, supporting the economy, effects on workers by the measures, and further boosting social protection.
In the meantime, Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou, announced that pupils will not be going to school, but teaching and administrative staff are still expected to present themselves for duty.
He also said that until April 10, his ministry will be offering pupils online courses. Starting from Monday, a pilot programme will be launched for third grade lyceum students.
European Parliament President David Sassoli said on Friday that all European countries will receive support for their health systems including supply of materials, support to hospitals, and financing research to develop a vaccine as soon as possible.
“Not since the end of the Second World War have we faced such a dramatic crisis,” Sassoli said. He added that the first priority is saving human lives.