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Facemask decree could be revisited in June


Cyprus is expected to reassess the mandatory face masks in outdoor areas by June, in accordance with the process of the national vaccination plan, health ministry advisors told the Cyprus Mail on Tuesday.

As temperatures rise in Cyprus, locals are impatient to ditch masks while outside. Facemasks were imposed as of mid-October last year.

“We will decide whether to ban masks in outdoor places soon,” Dr Petros Karayiannis, member of the Advisory Scientific Committee and Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Virology at the University of Nicosia said.

However, the decision will depend on how many people receive the Covid-19 jab.

Karayiannis estimated that about 60 to 65 per cent of the eligible population would have to be vaccinated before any adjustments to the measure are announced.

“Only when herd immunity is achieved and the virus will not be able to transfer from human to human, perhaps masks will not be required in low-risk areas,” namely outside places, another ministry advisor Zoe Dorothea Pana told the Cyprus Mail.

Cyprus has set a goal to vaccinate 65 per cent of the population with at least the first dose of a vaccine by the end of June, a plan described as “achievable” by Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou.

The current coverage stands at approximately 45 per cent for those with the first dose.

Ioannou on Tuesday said that “measures are reassessed on a weekly basis” and that some “imperceptible” measures might still remain in force.

But once the necessary coverage is achieved, “the majority of restrictions will be lifted”, Ioannou said.

While more than 50 countries have made masks compulsory in public places, according to German-based database company Statista, recent guidance by the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) states fully vaccinated people may “resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart” except in cases when this goes against other regulations.

A similar measure is not likely to be adopted in Cyprus soon, Pana said. “I think that the use of masks in indoor crowded places is important, it is a mechanical barrier,” she said.

Meanwhile in Cyprus, unmasked people are allowed in the outdoor seating areas of cafés, restaurants and bars since the end of the two-week lockdown on May 10.

Surgical masks as well as fabric masks are acceptable, Karayiannis said, but reminded the public that masks with a valve only protects the person who wears them.

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