Nicosia.- By Antonios Gkildakis/CNA
Unnecessary movement of people will be restricted in Cyprus, in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades announced on Monday.
In a televised address to the people, the President said that the ministerial committee which convened earlier today, authorized the Minster of Health to issue a decree, which will limit unnecessary movement of people from 6.00pm (local time) on Tuesday, March 24 until the 13th of April.
Exceptions will apply for those going to or returning from work, for those supplying businesses allowed to operate with necessary goods, for those going to the doctor or the pharmacy and for banking purposes that can not be done online.
Moreover, people who are moving around to help others who are not able to take care of themselves, or need to protect themselves or are confined at home or are in quarantine, will also be exempt from restrictions.
Close relatives attending weddings, funerals or baptisms will not be restricted either, providing they don’t exceed a group of 10 people.
People who want to go out for physical activities or walk their pets will be also allowed to do so in their neighborhood, in groups of no more than two people.
In any case, people moving around should carry their ID or passport as well as additional certificates that will be announced later.
President Anastasiades also announced that parks, playgrounds, open areas for sports, as well as public meeting places will be closed to the public from 6pm on Tuesday, March 24 until April 13, 2020. The latter include public squares, as well as excursion areas, dams, beaches and marinas.
All retail businesses will suspend their operations, except those listed in a decree that will be issued by the Health Minister. Moreover, street markets, bazaars and street vendors will not be allowed to operate. Work on construction sites will be also terminated, with the exception of public utility projects that secured a permission from the Minister of Transport.
Among others, people will not be allowed to attend places of religious worship, such as churches, mosques and other places of prayer. Moreover, traditional bonfires are prohibited.
“I want to make clear that the state will be relentless with those who are going to violate or have violated the decrees issued by the state so far” the President added. He also said that apart from other legal consequences, offenders will be charged with a fine of 150 euros.
Beginning his address, the President said that he is aware of the unprecedented conditions everyone is going through, in Cyprus and around the world and said that people’s concern is how to deal with this global threat.
It is true that mankind is threatened by an invisible enemy, he went on and warned against ignoring the warnings and measures in place to contain the danger and its terrible consequences.
“We are truly in war. Not a war where our children are conscripted to save or take lives with guns. This is a war that can be won only if we stay in the shelters” he said and pointed to the strict measures already taken.
He acknowledged that measures have cause bitterness among some people and have disrupted daily lives.
The President said, however, that despite the measures in place, the sacrifices of working people and the suffering of parents who have their children abroad, some people show lack of discipline, self-respect and solidarity towards others by displaying a certain behavior that poses a lethal danger to the population as a whole.
I can not imagine that we are moving towards what’s happening in Italy or Spain, where doctors have to choose who is going to live or be left to die, the President noted.
I do not want any citizen to feel that the life of his children, parents or grandparents depends on a set of circumstances formed as a result of disobedience or lack of discipline of a reckless minority, he went on.
President Anastasiades also announced that molecular tests to detect COVID-19 will be expanded and will be also conducted by clinics, biomedical or University laboratories, in an effort to strengthen the health system.
The number of public health clinics will also grow in all cities, in a bid to strengthen prevention, he added.
Speaking about students who are studying abroad, and who were not allowed to fly to Cyprus, the President said that it was an undoubtedly painful, but necessary decision and noted that the decision for their gradual repatriation will be reviewed, once conditions allow.
“I want to emphasize in the strongest terms that I share their concerns and I want to assure them that the state will be steadily on their side” he noted.
President Anastasiades also expressed the resoluteness of the government to support employers and employees in a substantial manner and said that a package of measures will be announced in a few days.
He thanked finally people who are in the front line of this effort to contain the spread of coronavirus, such as health professionals, and expressed confidence that “we will make it in this fight as well.”