Nine new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the north on Thursday, bringing the total to 56. The condition of two German tourists has worsened and they are now being treated in a designated space at a hospital in north Nicosia, where they are on ventilators.
Meanwhile authorities announced pay cuts for civil servants as part of an economic package to tackle the coronavirus crisis, reports said on Thursday.
The measures, announced by ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar, aim at saving 1.5bn Turkish lira (around €213.8m), to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.
The economic measures announced reportedly include slashing all public sector salaries above 5,000 TL by up to 25 per cent for three months. This excludes the salaries of public servants who have been carrying out essential services.
Tatar said those earning 6,000TL and lower will have a 16 per cent cut, while the highest public-sector salary will not exceed 8,500 TL. He also said that his salary as well as those of ‘ministers’, ‘MPs’ and other high-ranking officials would be slashed by up to 56 per cent.
Tatar also said that they will be allocating 750m TL to support the real estate sector, while businesses forced to temporarily close as part of the measures against the coronavirus will be able, if they wish to, to postpone rent payments until June. He also said that affected businesses could postpone their loan instalment payments for three months and that the authorities would cover the interest charged by the banks.
Bank customers will be able to postpone, interest-free, payment of their credit card bills for purchases between March 26 and April 26, of food, fuel or used to cover health expenses.
Those who pay their electricity bills for March, April and May on time will benefit from a 15 per cent discount.
The measures announced, however, did not satisfy everyone, including tourism sector businesses that complained they do not qualify to benefit from any of the measures announced. Hoteliers and casino operators said they were preparing a response.
Other criticisms concerned the fact that the measures only concerned Turkish Cypriots and Turkish nationals and not other foreign nationals who work and study in the north.
Municipalities too reacted to the announcement that the ‘state’ aid to them would be slashed by 25 per cent.
Meanwhile the Immovable Properties Commission announced they would not look into more applications by Greek Cypriots as regards the properties in the north until further notice, citing the measures against the coronavirus spread.
While the ban on movement is in place, Turkish Cypriots who wish to step outside their homes for specific reasons, were asked to send text messages to a central number for permission to do so.