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Update – 03/06/2020

  • Another six people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2928 tests, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, bringing the total to 958. Commenting on Twitter, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou who had earlier today announced cabinet’s decision to move on with phase 3 of the easing of the restrictions, said they were a reminder that the effort must continue, both on an individual and collective level.
  • The Council of Ministers decided on Wednesday to launch the third phase of a plan to ease restrictions in Cyprus, imposed due to COVID-19, starting essentially on June 9. This phase will last until June 24, and not July 14 as per the original plan, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said after the Cabinet meeting. Speaking at the Presidential Palace, Ioannou said that the Cabinet decision to ease restrictions further is taking into account the country’s very good epidemiological condition and the suggestions submitted by the group of experts, during a meeting with the President of Cyprus on Tuesday. According to Wednesday’s decisions, swimming pools will open for the public already on June 5. Starting on June 9, Cyprus is reopening malls, airports, ports facilitating cruise ships, the interior areas of restaurants and hotels, theaters and open-air cinemas. Sport championships are also resuming, without the presence of spectators. At the same time kindergartens and nurseries, along with children’s clubs, outdoor playgrounds, all-day summer and public schools are also opening their doors. On June 13, casinos are permitted to reopen, along with dance schools, boxing/ kickboxing schools, gyms, theme parks, waterparks and amusement parks. The Minister of Health said that no decisions were taken regarding the fourth phase, apart from a decision to open theaters and indoor cinemas at the beginning of August. Festivals, concerts, wedding receptions and christenings, as well as graduation ceremonies, will be postponed until September 1, the Minister added. Ioannou also said that gatherings of over 10 people continue to be prohibited, at least until June 24. Asked about the resumption of flights, the Minister said that they revaluated the decision to permit flights from two groups of countries, without however differentiating the existing arrangement. In reply to a relevant question, Ioannou said that the Cabinet did not discuss the reopening of crossing points. The Cabinet will reevaluate all decisions and is pressing on with the gradual lifting of restrictions, in order to be able to take all necessary measures if necessary, the Minister concluded. 
  • Cyprus General Government debt spiked to €24.56 billion according to official data in April, reflecting the large debt issuances by the Finance Ministry to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak to the economy. Cyprus’ debt amounted to 113% of GDP at the end of April from 95.5% at the end of 2019. The Finance Ministry entered in 2020 with an EMTN issuance of €1.75 billion in a bit to repay the remainder of an IMF loan secured during the 2013 financial crisis and to boost its cash reserves. The Finance Ministry’s initial estimates said that as part of the strong growth rates coupled with strict public financial management, the debt would decline to 91% in end-2020. However, the declining trajectory came to an abrupt halt due to the crisis of the Covid-19 outbreak and a two-month lockdown, prompting the government to launch two fiscal packages to support the economy and preserve jobs. The Finance Ministry issued bonds amounting to €3 billion in early April, a double EMTN trade amounting to €1.725 million and a domestic bond amounting to €1.250 to further boost its cash reserves, as state income took a significant hit due to lockdown measures. Furthermore, the Finance Ministry aims to cover both its fiscal and financing needs for 2020, as the Ministry forecasts a deficit of over €1 billion by end-2020. Moreover, the cash reserves aim to cover Cyprus’ financing needs for the next nine months on a rolling basis, according to the Public Debt Management Office strategy. According to the Finance Ministry’s projections, as stipulated in the Stability Programme submitted to the European Commission, GDP will decline by 7% in 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis and public debt is expected to culminate to 117% of GDP by end-2020. However, the upward trend is estimated to be contained in 2020, as growth will rebound the next year with 6% growth which is estimated to push public debt down to 103% in 2021.
  • Greece and Cyprus will be among the chief travel destinations for Germany’s TUI travel group which launches its programme for 2020 on June 17. Speaking to Business Insider after Germany said today it was lifting its travel warning from June 15, TUI Deutschland CEO Marek Andryszak said that the Balearic islands, the Canary Islands, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus will be the group’s main markets in 2020, while there will also be holiday packages for Croatia and Bulgaria. “The government has decided to lift its travel warning for the EU and four more countries in Europe. It is an important step for tour operators so that they can present their holiday packages,” he said.

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