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Update – 19/06/2020

  • For the fourth time this week no new cases of coronavirus were announced by the health ministry. The total confirmed number of cases remains 985. The ministry said a total of 763 tests were processed over the past 24 hours.
  • As Cyprus is set to ease restrictions to travellers from certain countries on Saturday, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou warned that the battle against coronavirus continued and cases would emerge in the coming days. The minister said they expected new cases, whether imported or locally transmitted. What was important however, is that a potential new wave would find Cyprus prepared and more knowledgeable. Cyprus managed to flatten the curve in the run up to opening its doors to travellers from 21 countries who would not need to have a clean bill of health before flying to the island.
  • Parliament on Friday voted into law two bills increasing fines for businesses violating coronavirus measures. Though it was proceeded by MPs making amendments to the bills during the House legal committee and criticising the government, they were eventually passed with a majority vote. Penalties start from €500 for small premises while those that are larger than 500 square metres can reach €8,000 for first time offenders and €16,000 the second time around. This meets a long-standing requirement by the recreation centres association Pasika, that fines should be proportional to the size of the business. Additionally, police can now order the suspension of a business on the spot for five days. 
  • The Ministerial Committee, responsible for the handling of coronavirus, decided to proceed with the opening of crossing points for Cypriot citizens and people residing legally in Cyprus from Sunday, June 21, during a meeting on Friday with the Scientific Advisory Team, under the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. The Turkish Cypriot side has been informed about the decision, with Cyprus authorities expecting its reaction. The meeting took place in the presence of the Greek Cypriot Head of the Bicommunal technical Committee on Health, Leonidas Phylactou.
  • The second phase in the operation of the airports starts on Saturday with all passengers arriving from Group A countries no longer requiring a certificate that they have tested negative for coronavirus. However there will be random checks for passengers from Group A and those from Group B. The latter will also need a certificate that they have tested negative for Covid-19. Hermes Airports senior communications manager Maria Kouroupi told CNA that despite the many challenges the resumption of commercial flights since June 9 has gone smoothly with passengers following the measures introduced as part of the protocol which include wearing masks and distancing. From June 9 to 15, some 7000 passengers have flown in and out of Cyprus on 85 flights, of which 19 were repatriation flights for 1266 passengers. “This is a very small number of flights compared to the corresponding period last year,” she said. Changes tomorrow will mean that Group A passengers will no longer need to present a a certificate that they had tested negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of their departure but will still need to complete the relevant forms. There will however be random tests, she said. This has given the opportunity to a number of airlines to change their schedules from June 20 onwards while from Sunday, Paphos Airport will also start operations with the first flight — a Ryanair flight from Thesaloniki – due to land at around 7 pm. Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos and Hermes Airports CEO Eleni Kalogerou will be at the airport to welcome the flight. All passengers flying to Cyprus must register on a new tailor-made portal CyprusFlightPass. The portal also features information on the classification of countries into groups which will determine which passengers can come to Cyprus and what is required in each case. Currently only Cypriots and legal residents are allowed to come to Cyprus from Group C countries. Transport Minister Karousos said earlier today the classifications will be updated every Friday — to be effective from the Monday after. The new classifications are expected some time today.
  • A day before phase two of the opening of Cyprus’ airports, the Health Ministry has updated its lists of countries regarding their epidemiological risk as regards coronavirus — adding four countries to Group A and nine to Group B. In an announcement, it said that after the opening of the borders on June 9, the epidemiological situation of various countries as regards Covid-19 has been reassessed and additional countries have been added to the groups. Classifications are based on the reproduction rate R (t)  for Covid-19, the number of new cases, the number of tests, the mortality rate per 100,000 people, the estimated prevalence and WHO indicators, it added. And it noted that the classification of countries based on epidemiological risk is exceptionally dynamic and can change at any given moment as the pandemic develops. For this reason, new figures will be announced and the list will be regularly updated, it said. The countries have been classified as follows:
  • Group A – Low risk countries
    • These are countries with R (t) of below 1 and/or small number of new cases (<1/100,000 inhabitants a day)  and/or very low COVID19 mortality  (<5-10/100,000 inhabitants) and/or sporadic cases or cluster of cases according to WHO and /or at least satisfactory tests (>3000 tests/100,000 residents): Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea
  • Group B – Countries with  possible low risk but with greater doubts compared to Group A 
    • These are countries with R (t) above 1 and/or new cases of  >1/100,000 people a day and/or increased COVID-19 mortality (>10/100,000 people)  and/or limited lab tests  (<2000 tests/100,000 people) or lack of classification by WHO.
    • Countries: Belgium, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Jordan, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Romania, UAE,
  • From June 20, passengers from Group A will not be required to present a certificate they have undergone a coronavirus test. Those from Group B will have to submit such a certificate from a recognised lab no older than 72 hours prior to departure. But passengers who cannot obtain such a certificate in the country of residence will have the option to carry out a test on arrival and cover the cost of 60 euro.
  • A rule restricting gatherings to a maximum of 10 people as part of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak will be scrapped on June 24, the Health Ministry has announced. It said that the initial plan was to limit gatherings to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors for the period of June 24 to July 6. However, because of the very good epidemiological situation of recent days, it has been decided to ease this further to 75 people indoors and 150 outdoors —  from June 24 rather than July 7 as initially planned. The ministry clarified that the simultaneous gathering indoors and outdoors is not permitted. The rule applies for include weddings, christenings, concerts, festivals, private gatherings at home and other forms of mass gatherings. Should these be at homes, the maximum number includes residents. In each case, hygiene protocols must be adhered to.
  • The state  is expected to start payment of a one off subsidy to 40,000 to 50,000 small businesses and self employed totalling some €100 m next week, Phileleftheros reports. The green light is expected from the European Commission in the next few days, opening the way for the payment of the scheme. It covers small businesses with up to 50 employees and the self-employed who took part in the government’s support schemes for the full or partial suspension of operations in the period of April 13 to May 12. The aim is to help cover expenses such as rent and other operating costs. Payments will be made by the Labour Ministry which has the details of eligible beneficiaries. The self-employed are expected to receive a transfer into their bank account while companies will be sent cheques, the paper added. The sum will be distributed as follows:
    • Up to one person: €1250
    • From 2 to 5 persons: €3000
    • From 6 to 9 persons: €4000
    • From 10 to 50 persons: €6000
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has doubled its trade finance limit to the Bank of Cyprus to benefit businesses, including small and medium size enterprises to €100 million from €50 million. In a press release, the EBRD says that “the doubling of the limit from €50 million to €100 million comes under the EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) in response to the coronavirus pandemic.” “The increase in trade finance will help mitigate the disruptions that severe market conditions have caused in trade and supply chains,” it notes. It will accommodate, it continues, “the growing demand from Bank of Cyprus’s customers for trade finance instruments by providing guarantees for import, export and local distribution of imported goods.” Referring to the Bank of Cyprus it says that it is one of the EBRD’s most active TFP partner banks in Cyprus with 319 transactions worth over €200 million to date.
  • Two business establishments in Nicosia were booked for breaking the decrees to contain the spread of coronavirus following 943 checks islandwide in the past 24 hours. There were 52 checks in Nicosia, 88 in Limassol, 443 in Larnaca, 79 in Paphos, 118 in the free Famagusta area and 163 in the Morphou area.

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