Cyprus lifts lockdown with COVID 'safety pass'

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Cyprus will end a third partial lockdown on Monday with a new coronavirus safety pass system to allow people to move around freely.

“Starting tomorrow, Cyprus is taking a step towards a return to a more normal pace of social and economic activity,” Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Sunday.

“By implementing health protocols, studying the population and accelerating the vaccination program, Cyprus is taking an important step to overcome uncertainty,” he added.

The government is abolishing a system of official SMS permitting people to leave their homes.

Cypriots who want to enter restaurants now have to present a COVID certificate that the government has named a “safety pass”.

Eligible beneficiaries must have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine or be infected with the virus in the last six months, or have a valid 72-hour negative PCR or rapid test.

Authorities said the pass is a temporary measure that must be enforced by May 31 to expedite the introduction of vaccinations on the island to achieve herd immunity. By the end of June, 65 percent of the adult population should be vaccinated at least once.

Although hospitality and outdoor retail stores are slated to reopen, a nightly curfew will remain in place after 11 p.m.

On April 26, Cyprus was locked down for two weeks as hospitals struggled to cope with the growing cases of coronavirus.

Cyprus is grappling with a third wave of COVID-19 infections caused by the more contagious British variant. Daily cases peaked at 941 last month.

New daily cases have since dropped below 400, as has the test positivity rate.

As of Saturday, Cyprus recorded 397 cases, out of 71,250 COVID tests.

However, the level is much higher than it was in September 2020 when daily infections were often close to zero.

The liberation of the economy comes as the holiday island in the eastern Mediterranean will receive vaccinated tourists from May 10th without entry restrictions.

The country claims to have made significant progress in its vaccination campaign. People in their twenties are eligible for their first stitch starting Monday.

According to the Ministry of Health, Cyprus ranks sixth in the EU for the administration of the first dose of COVID vaccines.

By May 8, 36 percent of the adult population had received a first shock and 11 percent were fully vaccinated.

Government-controlled Southern Cyprus has recorded nearly 70,000 cases of COVID-19 infection and 334 deaths since the pandemic hit its coast in March 2020.

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