Teleworking for 20 per cent of the staff of businesses offering services, suspension of all events inside and outside malls, and the obligatory testing for all passengers upon arrival in the Republic were among the measures announced on Thursday after a cabinet meeting.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said that from Monday and until the end of December, cabinet decided that telework must be introduced for 20 per cent of the staff of each company or organisation in the service sector, excluding essential services. It clarified that this percentage includes people who are working from home after being found positive for Covid-19 or are close contacts of confirmed cases and people who are on leave.

From Monday and up to January 10, 2022, all Christmas, or other events inside and outside malls are suspended. Any other events that will be held by municipalities, communities and places of religious worship, will be allowed under the responsibility of local authorities and organisers according to existing health protocols.

“In case of non-compliance with the protocols, the events will be suspended,” the minister said.

Cabinet also recommended cancellation of all school excursions by private individuals. “School trips have already been suspended by previous decisions,” Hadjipantelas said.

Reservist duty in the army has been suspended from Monday until February 28, 2022.

The minister said the new measures were aimed at preventing possible deterioration of the epidemiological situation due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Though, he said, around 10,000 people received their first dose of a vaccine in the past 10 days, and around 70,000 have so far got their booster jab, which was encouraging, “last Friday, the whole planet was put on alert […] after the emergence of the Omicron mutation.”

“It is our duty as the health ministry and as the government, to respond to these developments, by taking additional measures to protect public health and vulnerable groups,” Hadjipantelas said.

Earlier, it was announced that, from Monday all passengers aged 12 and over arriving in the Republic by plane or ship will have to undergo a PCR test, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not or have a Covid-19 recovery certificate.

Cabinet approved a proposal by Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos on mandatory PCR tests by all persons aged 12 and over upon arrival in the Republic of Cyprus, by air or by sea, regardless of the country of departure. The cost of the test, €15, will be paid by the passengers. This measure will be in place until January 10 when it will be reviewed based on the epidemiological situation. People will have to self-isolate either at home of their hotel until the results are out.

Passengers entering the Republic from ports for a short visit must have a negative PCR certificate not older than 72 hours. In addition, upon arrival, they will be required to undergo a rapid antigen test, at the expense of the Republic of Cyprus.

Presenting the proposal, Karousos pointed out the need for temporary measures at the entry points of the Republic, due to the detection of the new Omicron mutation which has been recorded in some African and European countries.