Everyone will have to wear masks in crowded indoor spaces from midnight on Friday and those failing to do so will be fined €300, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou has announced.
The minister also announced restrictions on gatherings in the Limassol district, the centre of the recent spike in cases.
There, no more than ten people will be allowed to get together in social gatherings, while the maximum number of customers in restaurants, cafes and bars has been decreased to 75 indoors and 150 outdoors.
More generally, the new measures concern the mandatory use of masks in crowded indoor areas such as malls, banks, supermarkets, hospitals and churches. Those not using a mask will be fined €300.
Authorities will also increase the daily random coronavirus tests at airports from 600 to 1,000, mainly focusing on Cypriots returning from holidays, he said, “since it emerged that the biggest percentage of cases concerns locals with a travel history.”
Police will also intensify checks on persons in self-isolation who have arrived from category C countries or who are close contacts of people who tested positive to the virus. Ioannou said there would be daily checks on these individuals.
Authorities will also intensify checks in businesses, restaurants and other premises “with explicit instructions for zero tolerance”.
As regards hospitals and older adults’ homes, it is advised that visits are restricted.
In Limassol, restrictions will also be put on the numbers allowed in churches. The presence of people is determined based on square metres depending on the existing protocol, but the maximum amount has been set at 75 people.
The measures concerning Limassol will be in effect from midnight and for three weeks. Furthermore, public buses in the Limassol district must run at no more than 50 per cent full.
Ioannou said he and the justice minister gave new strict instructions to competent authorities to enforce the regulations on the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus after services observed relaxation as regards checks.
“We are among the few countries globally to have successfully tackled the pandemic,” Ioannou said.
The lifting of many restrictions has led to many ignoring the personal protection regulation and social distancing. In contrast, people who should have been self-isolating did not do so, he said.
He said Cyprus was the first EU member to introduce three categories as regards arrivals from abroad. The other countries have only two types.
The announcement follows a meeting earlier at the Presidential Palace between President Nicos Anastasiades and the advisory team on coronavirus.
The meeting at the Presidential Palace took place after 13 new Covid-19 cases were announced on Wednesday by authorities, the highest daily tally in some time and another ten on Thursday, eight of them from Limassol.
In addition to Ioannou, the ministers of interior, transport, justice, finance and the deputy minister for tourism also participated at the meeting.