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Coronavirus: SMS system ends, Cyprus takes a ‘big step forward’ (update 2)

ΛΕΥΚΩΣΙΑ ΕΠΑΝΑΛΕΙΤΟΥΡΓΙΑ ΚΑΦΕΤΕΡΙΩΝ ΜΠΑΡ

Cyprus will take a big step today with optimism and some concern, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Monday as Cyprus bid farewell to the SMS system, implementing the SafePass instead, which is needed to go into shops, bars and restaurants and on the bus among other places.

Speaking to CyBC radio, Ioannou said we are taking a big step towards returning to normal.

“There is an improvement in the picture but we do not have the luxury for setbacks, so the public is asked to strictly comply with the relevant protocols,” he said.

He said that it would be easier to extend some of the measures, but the most important thing in the decisions was people’s psychology.The SafePass, he said, will allow people to move around without the psychological pressure of having to send an SMS.

“We held a small lockdown to restrain the situation that had got out of control,” he said.

However, minister for innovation Kyriacos Kokkinos said the current situation will not last long, as the SafePass will be replaced by the Green Pass which can be used internationally and on a Europe wide basis.

Until the SafePass becomes digitalised, which is expected to take eight to ten days, people can present a vaccination certificate, proof they have suffered from coronavirus in the last six months or the negative result of a PCR of rapid test taken within the last 72 hours.

According to indications from Europe, Kokkinos said the Green Pass is expected to be ready at the end of June or the beginning of July.

Only the police or other government officials will be able to stop members of the public and ask for the SafePass, those working in shops, restaurants and other places where it is needed will not be responsible for checking people have one.

Police spokesman Christos Andreou told the Cyprus News Agency that they are ready to carry out checks on the use of the SafePass.

Though police will no longer check people have sent an SMS they will have to do more traffic checks since there will be more people out and about and in areas where the SafePass will be needed.

Andreou said that police will carry out checks in these places in cooperation with officials of state services.

In restaurants, cafés and other such places, responsibility for checks lies with the deputy ministry for tourism in cooperation with the police, he said.

He added that checks will be carried out by police officers, also in plain clothes, and ministry officials. He said found violating the measures will be subject to €300 fines while in cases of serious or repeated offences, they will be taken to court.

“Those who follow the measures and have on them a SafePass in places where it is necessary, they have nothing to fear,” Andreou said.

The SafePass will be needed to go into all food outlets, places of worship, theatres, malls, wedding and christening events, gyms, dance schools etc, old people’s homes, hotel common areas, buses, casinos, trade events.

They are not needed to enter hairdressers, beauty salons, banks, government officers, betting shops, markets, supermarkets, butchers, kiosks, pharmacies, beaches, outdoor areas such as dams, zoos etc.

The measures will stay in place until May 31.

As well as the new method for circulating outside the house, the curfew will now be in effect from 11pm to 5am.

Schools have also returned with the physical presence of children, with those in senior school undergoing a weekly rapid test.

People are allowed to go to outdoor areas in groups of up to 10 and will also be allowed to gather in homes up to the same number, including children.

The operation of night clubs, event venues, discos, clubs and music and dancing venues remains suspended.

Hotels were also allowed to open on Monday to local guests, provided they have a SafePass.

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