Business for bars and cafes in the city centres is booming with some even arguing that their opening has led to a reduction in coronavirus cases.

Saturday night in Nicosia’s old town had an open-air festival feel to it, as crowds descended upon their favourite cafes, bars and restaurants – despite a significant drop in temperature.

“It’s the busiest we’ve been so far, since the reopening, which is great but it’s still not how it was before the pandemic,” a bar owner in Nicosia told the Cyprus Mail.

Even so, many had difficulties finding a table at their favourite spots – a prospect which had spooked the government’s coronavirus advisory team – indicating a swarm of possible coronavirus transmissions.

“People are now socialising and meeting one another outdoors at cafes and so on, where there are protocols in place, instead of indoors at their homes as was mainly happening before,” Fanos Leventis, general secretary of the Pancyprian Association of Owners of Recreation Centres (Pasika), told the Cyprus Mail on Monday.

In a follow-up statement, Pasika said that two weeks have now passed since measures were relaxed and not only have cases not increased but they have in fact gone down.

And while the city centres appear to have attracted the lion’s share of customers, not all bars are created equal.

“Some bars are in fashion while others are not and generally people want to go where the rest go – that’s what we always expect,” Leventis said.

But such trends may be exacerbated as comfort outdoors is now more important than ever before.

“Some have space to host the people while some do not have enough outdoor areas – there’s many factors – but it also depends on the comfort available while outdoors, the cold weather might not be felt so much in some outdoor areas,” Leventis explained.

As many observed over the weekend however, the weather proved to be a minor inconvenience for the younger crowds.

“Some young people don’t care as much and they’ll go even if they’re cold – I was somewhat surprised,” Leventis said.

As head of Pasika however, Leventis surveys the wider area – noting complaints and concerns from the businesses in the sector which are missing out on the post-lockdown hype.

He explained that the mountain communities in particular are facing difficulties with the outdoor-only stipulations – where the cold weather really kicks in – but also that many businesses in the tourist hotspots along the coasts still remain shuttered.

He also offered that it may be easier for bars and cafes to now carve out a greater slice of the market as customers may feel more financially suited to spending five to eight euros on drinks rather than spending Є20-30 on a meal.

“I don’t think we are in a very good financial state right now, some of the older-aged customers are more cautious as to how much they want to spend – and if they do go out for a meal, it might be less frequent than it was before,” Leventis said.

He senses this could possibly lead to a shift in the market, as customers may be looking for greater value for their money.

Sta Ouza Mas, a Limassol restaurant in Iroon square, told the Cyprus Mail that business was booming over the weekend despite the cold snap.

“We’ve lost many of the over 50s crowd but the younger people from about 28-40, since in general we have a slightly older customer base, are coming out as normal – some even twice a week,” the manager told us.

“We’re fortunate that we’re on the square and have a big space so people know that when they come they’re not going to be squished in all together.”