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Coronavirus: TCs announce relaxation of measures, economy hits rock bottom’

The Turkish Cypriot side has announced the relaxation of measures amid growing concerns on the state of the economy with ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar announcing that public revenues had hit rock bottom.

The relaxations of restrictions currently in place to restrain the spread of Covid-19, will be introduced on Monday with the reopening of economic sectors.

After almost two weeks with no new coronavirus cases, it was announced on Wednesday that 16 people who had undergone rapid tests for Covid-19 were found positive but were to be retested to make sure the results were accurate. The total number of coronavirus cases in the north remains at 108 pending a final announcement on these people’s results.

‘Deputy prime minister’ Kudret Ozersay, announced that businesses and sectors would be able to resume activity as of May 4 except for schools, educational institutions, tourism facilities, casinos and entertainment venues, picnic sites, sports venues, internet cafes, gyms, dance schools, nightclubs, barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons, wedding halls, betting offices and farmers markets which will remain closed until May 15.

Restaurants, cafes and patisseries will also remain closed, except those that offer takeaway or delivery services provided that their staff is tested for Covid-19.

Civil servants will return to work also on May 15 on a rotation system.

The entry ban to the north of anyone else other than Turkish Cypriots and their spouses will continue until May15.

All public transportation will remain suspended while the ban on mass gatherings, prayers, or fast-breaking events during the holy month of Ramadan will remain in place.

In the meantime, Tatar announced during a TV programme that public revenues had hit rock bottom.

He expressed hope that the situation would improve once the economy was up and running in the next few months.

In response to a question about the possibility of financial assistance from Turkey, he said bilateral contacts to produce a detailed outlook of the financial situation in the north continue.

He added that he was also discussing the developments with Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay regularly and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Nonetheless, we wish to carry out our activities with our own resources,” Tatar said.

Turkish Cypriot economist Dervis Kemal Deniz, however, told Yeni Bakıs newspaper that even if businesses in the north opens, there would be a period of stagnation and lack of liquidity resulting in a large number of workers facing unemployment.

He stressed the need for both banks and the Turkish Cypriot authorities to clarify from now the measures they would take to support businesses.

According to Deniz, Turkey’s support was very important since the ‘government’ must increase spending on investment and support that sector with tax cuts which is not easy due to budgetary difficulties.

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