Cyprus starts gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions

2021-02-01 15:06:05 GMT2021-02-01 23:06:05(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

Video PlayerClose

NICOSIA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The government of Cyprus has decided to gradually ease the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on Jan. 10, with Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou saying on Monday that he expected this to be the beginning of the end of the coronavirus crisis.

Ioannou said the relaxation was made possible by the recent drop in new infections and hospitalizations.

The Health Ministry said that on Sunday only 106 new COVID-19 cases were reported, down from an all-time daily high of nearly 800 infections at the start of the restrictions. The national sample positivity rate has dropped to 0.37 percent.

Barbershops, hairdressers and beauty salons reopened on Monday and the percentage of people who could report for work in private businesses was increased from 25 to 50.

Restrictions on the movement of people and a partial night-time curfew remained in force and visits to houses are restricted to two relatives per day.

General retail services will restart on Feb 8 with the reopening of shopping malls, department stores and retail shops. Most schools will also reopen, but restaurants and other hospitality venues, such as cafes and pubs, will remain closed until further notice.

Ioannou said in a tweet that the easing of restrictions rested on three pillars -- testing, observing health protocols and vaccination.

He added that large numbers of people, especially those returning to work, will be tested on a weekly basis.

Vaccination of persons older than 86 in Cyprus is ongoing until delivery of more vaccines through orders placed by the European Union will allow younger people to be vaccinated, starting in the middle of February.

Vaccination is also underway in other countries using already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization (WHO). Enditem