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Coronavirus: 8998 returns as tougher restrictions announced (Update 1)

Υπουργός Υγείας – Συνέντευξη Τύπο
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou (file photo)

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Friday announced tougher measures and only two outings per day with permission through SMS.

The curfew remains from 9.00 pm to 5.00 am.

The new measures will be in effect from 5am Sunday to January 31.

According to the minister, only two outings per day will be allowed with permission through SMS to 8998. People over 65 can use a printed form for leaving their home. Clarifications will be given soon.

No SMS is necessary for people who need to walk their dogs in a 500-metre radius from their homes, for the movement of handicapped people and people with autism and their escorts, and for taking children to and from kindergartens, day cares and special education centres.

Department stores, barbershops, hairdresser salons, beauty and tattoo parlours and small shops must suspend their operations.

The same applies for malls, theatres, cinemas, events halls, amphitheatres, food and beverage places, playgrounds, gyms, dance schools and other, similar schools will remain closed.

Businesses in the construction and processing sectors, food and beverage and other rand retail businesses can remain open. More information will be given about which businesses are concerned.

The ban on gatherings in private and public areas such as in town and village squares, water reservoirs, picnic areas, marinas etc, remains in place except for purposes of exercise in parks, linear parks and beaches but not more than two people.

Teleworking is encouraged for private companies and services that remain in operation while not more than 15 per cent of staff can be physically present in the workplace. A maximum number of 20 people can be physically present per business premises.

The obligatory telework for civil servants announced earlier is still in place.

Kindergartens will remain open while distance learning will continue for primary and high school pupils.

First division football matches can take place without any spectators, while the rest of the sports championships are suspended as sports activities of minors under 18. Second and third division football clubs can continue training.

Churches and other worship places will remain closed to the faithful although services can take place without their presence. People who want to pray in solitude will be able to go to worship places given that all hygiene protocols are observed.

Religious ceremonies such as weddings, baptisms and funerals can take place with the presence of only 10 people.

Ioannou said the goal is to give a breather to the health system and restrict the spread of coronavirus.

“We need to avert the possibility of people dying because we cannot care for them,” Ioannou said.

He said these measures were deemed necessary as not all previous measures paid off to the desirable levels.

Ioannou said that in parallel with the new measures, the government’s strategy envisages conducting even more diagnostic tests, “so that we have a more complete picture of the epidemiological situation in the community.”

He added that, in addition to the population control programme with rapid tests, targeted checks would be carried out in private companies and in the public and wider public sector that will remain in operation.

“During these three weeks and the period that will follow, we will continue the vaccination programme according to the plan to cover the vulnerable groups of the population.”

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