Cyprus announced a two-week lockdown and brought forward a night-time curfew on Friday to try to reverse a spike in infections of Covid-19.
The east Mediterranean island has seen a surge in infections over the last month, putting pressure on its healthcare system. Since March 2020, Cyprus has recorded 59,792 cases of Covid-19, and 296 deaths.
A variant of the novel coronavirus first identified in Britain, which is at least 50% more contagious, is thought to be responsible for an increase in cases. It was first identified in samples taken from persons who tested positive with the coronavirus in Cyprus in Dec. 2020.
The new lockdown will come into effect on April 26 and run until May 9, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told reporters. A night-time curfew will start at 2100, from 2300 at present, and run until 0500 the next day. People who do not have a permit to go to their place of employment will be allowed outdoors only once a day.
Authorities will make an exception for May 1, allowing limited numbers to attend Greek Orthodox Easter Mass services. Throughout the week from April 26, church liturgies in the run-up to Easter will be closed to the public, he said.
Businesses including hairdressers, gyms, theatres and cafes will have to shut, along with retail businesses with the exception of food and beverage or essential services.
“We are at a particularly difficult phase in the pandemic,” Ioannou said. Authorities will boost the vaccination process and have said they and plan to vaccinate 60% of the population by the end of June.