The Cabinet approved a gradual lift of a partial lockdown starting on Monday, with the health minister saying the decision was designed to avoid making hasty moves.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced on Wednesday at noon the gradual lifting of partial lockdown measures, which went into effect earlier this month.
“We are three weeks into a partial lockdown which went into effect on January 10 and an improvement of the epidemiological situation allows us to begin a gradual ease of restrictive measures,” Ioannou said.
The measures include the reopening of barbershops, hair salons, massage parlors, and spas on Monday, February 1, along with an increase of up to half of the daily staff allowed in private businesses.
House gathering bans remain in place except for visits by up to two persons, provided the guests are first or second-degree relatives of the hosts.
Curfew will continue in the weeks to come, starting as always in the evening at 9pm until early morning at 5am every day.
The Text Service 8998 also remains in place for persons wishing to leave their place of residence for legitimate purposes by sending an SMS before going out up to twice a day.
A week later, February 8, public and private schools are set to reopen, along with retail shops including department stores and shopping malls.
February 8 will also see a rise in the people permitted in visits to homes to four.
The number of outings per day is still restricted to two, as the need to secure permission through text remains in place. A number, ‘9’ will be added to the options for hairdressers and beauticians. For house visits, people will have to use ‘5’.
Also, up to four persons will be allowed for house gatherings, while church services can take place with up to 50 people in attendance.
Health protocols and guidance rules, as well as social distancing requirements, remain in effect throughout the entire period of gradually easing restrictions.
The minister said the aim of the two-stage easing of the lockdown was to restrict movement and contacts as much as possible. The one-week delay affords authorities the time to intervene if there is a problem, he added.
The authorities have raised the number of testing stations to 40 from 25 and people will be summoned to be tested in an alphabetical order. This should be completed by the time of the second stage of opening up on February 8.
Ioannou said it had not been yet decided whether to test graduates returning to school but the personnel will be screened.
“With the implementation of the strategy for everyone who is reopening now to be tested, as well as 20 per cent of workers on a weekly basis, our aim is to constantly monitor the epidemiological situation through testing, spot possible surges in time, and try to keep the positivity rate low.”
From Monday, February 1, the following will take effect:
- Reopening of barbershops, hairdressers, beauty salons.
- Increase from 25% to 50% of the percentage of staff that can have a physical presence in private service companies, without a minimum and maximum number of people.
- Prohibition of gatherings in homes, with the exception of the visit of up to two people who are first or second degree relatives
From Monday, February 8, the following will also apply:
- Reopening of public and private primary schools.
- Reopening of retail businesses, including department stores and malls.
- Reopening of betting shops only for the purposes of completing the ticket, without the use of seating.
- Reopening of museums and other archaeological sites.
- Church services with a maximum of 50 people observing the health protocols.
- Increase in the number of people for home visits, to four.
Further clarifications that may arise on the implementation of the measures will be given within the day, the ministry said.