The health ministry announced a slew of changes to the Covid-19 restrictions, ranging from the end of outdoor mask mandates from April 11 to a SafePass no longer being required in most work settings.
The announcement came soon after the transport ministry announced the removal of the Cyprus Flight Pass from April 18, detailed below.
There are also changes to the length of time positive cases are required to isolate, as well as their close contacts.
In his statements, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said that: “Today’s announcement of relaxing the measures must not be misinterpreted, Covid-19 is still here… Experts insist that Covid-19 is not a simple cold.”
The measures are as follows:
From April 11: Outdoor mask mandate is scrapped, the SafePass is no longer required in work settings – apart from healthcare workers in hospitals, clinics and those in care homes – but the test-to-stay programme will be extended to students for extracurricular activities.
The SafePass will no longer be required at businesses serving the public – understood to be places such as banks – as well as government departments, archaeological sites, museums, galleries, fares, construction sites and so on.
Cinemas and theatres may return to one hundred per cent capacity.
Patients in hospitals are permitted one visitor at a time provided they have a 24-hour rapid test.
Businesses and government departments are advised to have remote working tweaked to 25 per cent of staff, where possible.
Camping trips – presumably organised by schools and the scouts – are given the green light provided a SafePass is presented.
Also from April 11, and specifically for isolation requirements: Those who test positive can end their isolation without the need to take a rapid test on the seventh day provided that they have no active symptoms. They can end isolation earlier, on the fifth day, if they have a negative PCR test which is paid for by the individual. There are some exceptions for healthcare workers.
Close contacts of a person who tested positive also have their isolation period reduced. They will now isolate for five days instead of seven, provided that they have no active symptoms. They will have to take rapid tests on the third and fifth day from the date of contact.
Both measures stated above will be in effect from April 11.
The test-to-stay measures at school have been reduced from seven to five days and those who are contacts from a family related setting are not required to undertake the test-to-stay protocol.
From April 15: The announcement of Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths will take place weekly instead of daily.
From April 18: The SafePass will no longer be required at retail shops and malls, but will be necessary for cafes, bars and restaurants inside such areas.
From May 2: Students returning to school from the holiday period must present a 48-hour rapid test and from then on a weekly test.
In terms of travel the Cyprus Flight Pass will be scrapped from April 18, while unvaccinated travellers will only be required to provide proof of a negative 24-hour rapid test or 72-hour PCR test.
Country categorisations will also be ditched from April 18, while under 12s will be exempt from Covid-19 checks, as Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos spoke ahead of further announcements which are expected by the health minister following the cabinet meeting.
The transport ministry later detailed the requirements for travellers, which are simplified to a few basic provisions.
Travellers are considered vaccinated if they have one of the following Covid-19 vaccines: Johnson&Johnson/Janssen, AstraZeneca, (Vaxzervia, Covishield, SKBio), Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Sputnik V (Gam-Covid-Vac), Sinopharm (BBIBPCOVID-19), CovaVax, Sinovac (CoronaVac), Covaxin, Sputnik Light (only as a booster dose) and Novavax Nuvaxovid Covid-19.
Adults have no expiry date for their booster doses, while initial vaccination regimens – the initial two doses or one dose for Johnson recipients, for example – are valid for nine months from the date of their latest dose.
Travellers under the age of 18 who are vaccinated have no expiry date provided they have completed their initial vaccination regimen.
Travellers who have received J&J shots must wait two weeks, while all other vaccine recipients can travel straight after their vaccination.
Recovery certificates are accepted provided that they are issued by a nation’s government authorities and no more than 180 days have elapsed from the date of the first positive Covid-19 test, accepted in either print or digital form.
Many in the tourism sector have expressed concern that Cyprus could lose out to other nations which have scrapped all Covid-19 entry and travel requirements, while up until now travellers to the island had to fill out a cumbersome passenger locator form.