Sun, 05 Jul 2020

NICOSIA, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The Cypriot government is mulling bringing forward easing of some measures introduced in mid-March to contain COVID-19, along with the implementation of third phase measures as of June 9, an official said on Tuesday.

"The possibility of accelerating some measures scheduled to be relaxed at a later stage was discussed," Maria Koliou, a member of the scientific team advising the government, said after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades and ministers involved in implementing the relaxation measures.

"The good epidemiological situation makes it possible to introduce some of the relaxation measures earlier," said Koliou, an infectious diseases professor at the State University of Cyprus.

Koliou said that final decisions will be made at a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday and will be announced officially the same day.

Koliou said that mass wedding receptions and concerts are not among the measures to be expedited, adding that it is difficult to control the behavior of people in large numbers.

Measures scheduled to be introduced as part of the third phase include the reopening of airports, the disembarkation from cruise ships, operation of hotels for foreign guests, reopening of theatres and open air cinemas, shopping malls, department stores, gyms and summer schools.

Cyprus has listed 19 countries in two groups for the resumption of flights.

Until June 20, travelers from all countries will be required to have certificate for a negative COVID-19 test made 72 hours prior to the flight. After that date, those coming from group A countries - Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania - will travel freely.

Travelers from group B countries - Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic - will still be required to have a test certificate.

Petros Karayiannis, also a member of the scientific advisory team, said that the modalities and dates of implementing third phase measures were noted down and are expected to receive final approval by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

But he added that the fourth stage of restrictions easing, which includes opening of indoors cinemas and theaters, casino operation, indoor children's play areas and mass gatherings in weddings and concerts, is "somehow ambivalent."

"Some measures will relax earlier than planned," he added.

He confirmed press reports that Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou had objected to the bringing forward of some measures as being too risky and the scientific team accepted his views.

Karayiannis also said that concerns were raised by specialists over the reopening of crossing points on the buffer zone separating the part of Cyprus controlled by Turkish troops from the Cyprus government jurisdiction.

The issue was discussed by Greek and Turkish Cypriot specialists on Monday.

He said that the concerns come from the fact that many university students in the Turkish controlled part of Cyprus come from Arab countries where the coronavirus pandemic is on the rise.

President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci agreed on reopening some crossing points on June 8 for people working or studying in the government jurisdiction areas.

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