Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades announced draconian measures including restrictions in movement and the closures of public places, as the government seeks to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which totalled 155 cases island-wide.
“An out-of-control spread of the cases will lead to the collapse of the health system, which cannot respond to the needs that will be created irrespective of how good its structure is,” he said during a televised address on Monday evening.
“I cannot conceive that we can be led to the scenes seen in Italy and Spain where doctors are forced to select who lives and who will be left to die.”
The president said that despite previous measures, the sacrifice of thousands of workers, the pain felt by parents and children who remained abroad, a section of the public displayed a lack of discipline, self-respect, responsibility and solidarity with their fellow humans.
“Behaviours that expose the entire population to mortal danger,” he said, referring to the scenes of crowded parks on Sunday despite the government’s plea for people to stay at home.
As part of the fresh measures, the government banned unnecessary movement from 6pm on Tuesday until April 13, unless it concerned work, the purchase of supplies, doctor and pharmacy visits, or going to a bank if an online transaction is impossible. Also exempted are people who provide assistance to vulnerable groups and first-degree relatives attending funerals, weddings, or baptisms, provided they do not exceed 10 people.
Exercising and walking a dog are also allowed as long as they do not exceed two people and they are restricted to the area around their residences. Everyone outside must carry their ID or passport and additional proof regarding their business,
Starting Tuesday 6pm and until April 13, the government will shut parks, play areas, open sports facilities, public meeting places – including squares, reservoirs, picnic areas, beaches, marinas, open markets and bazaars. Visits to churches, mosques, and other religious venues were also banned.
All retailers will suspend operation apart from those included in a health ministry order: companies selling equipment for the handicapped, medical equipment, opticians, hearing aids, garages, tyre shops, bicycle shops, dry cleaners, post and courier officers, telecom companies – bill payment and repairs – car dealerships, flower shops, funeral parlours. All businesses can trade online and deliver their goods.
The closure order includes construction sites apart from those relating to public utilities. The Easter bonfire tradition was also banned, and any ‘fuel’ collected by youths will be removed by local authorities and the police.
Earlier on Monday the Cyprus Medical Association (Cyma) had called on the government to impose a complete ban on unnecessary travel to stop the spread of the coronavirus “before it’s too late”.
Cyma said the government needed to take stricter measures even a temporary total lockdown “without delay” to halt the uncontrolled spread of the virus mainly from asymptomatic cases,” it said. “It is absolutely necessary to support healthcare services and workers.”
The advisory committee for the health ministry had also been discussing the total ban on unnecessary travel, committee head Dr Erini Christaki said.