Cyprus will be under a strict national lockdown starting Sunday, January 10, until the end of the month, Health Minister Konstantinos Ioannou announced Friday afternoon.
The island nation, home to a population of 1.2 million people, recorded a startling 573 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.
Alarmingly, a number of cases of the UK variant have also been diagnosed among those who had arrived in Cyprus from the UK.
According to Ioannou, the strict measures are aimed at curbing the possibility of crowding — both at places of work and in homes.
As the service industry, including bars and coffee shops, has been closed in Cyprus since December already — excluding delivery and take away — many Cypriots have been meeting at each other’s homes for social events.
Most of the nation’s recent cases have been diagnosed amongst those who contracted the virus at work or from social gatherings, Ioannou stated.
Under the new measures, an overnight curfew from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM will be in effect, and all public and private gatherings — whether inside or outdoors — will be completely banned.
Outside of the home, everyone must follow strict hygiene measures, including wearing a mask and keeping the appropriate social distance from those who do not live in the same residence.
In order to leave the house, Cypriots must send an SMS to the hotline number 8998 with the purpose of their outing.
These reasons include — but are not limited to — going to work, shopping at the pharmacy or supermarket or for other essential goods, exercising, and receiving medical treatment.
In order to prevent unnecessary movement outside the home, everyone will be limited to sending just two messages a day, with limited exceptions for emergencies.
Church services will take place without the presence of any parishioners. Individuals are, however, permitted to go to churches for the purpose of personal prayer while the liturgy is not conducted, provided that they follow strict safety measures.
Classes in all levels of education will now take place online, but daycare and special education schools will remain open under the new measures.
Those working in the public sector, with few exceptions, will work from home, as well as the majority of those in the private sector.