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Update – 21/05/2020

  • The health ministry announced  one new confirmed coronavirus case on Thursday, the first day most restrictions were lifted after two months of lockdown. The total number of cases now stands at 923.
  • Cyprus’ Government discussed Thursday measures and incentives to reboot the economy, in a meeting with the Economy and Competitiveness Council at the Presidential Palace, as restrictive measures to eliminate COVID-19 further relaxed. According to a Presidency’s press release, Deputy Government Spokesman Panagiotis Sentonas said after the meeting that President Nikos Anastasiades had been briefed on the suggestions and proposals of the members of the Council, in view of the new framework of economic measures to be announced by the Government. “Medium and long-term measures and incentives have been discussed. The Government will continue to consult with the members of the Economic Council, as the preparation and planning of the new framework of measures that will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval next week is underway, “he said. He also noted that the Minister of Finance Constantinos Petrides, also participating in the meeting, had been in  constant contact and consultation with the Economy and Competitiveness Council. President of the Council Takis Klerides said that the meeting discussed the reboot of the economy and the measures and incentives proposed by the Economy and Competitiveness Council. “We have explained our thoughts to the President of the Republic and the Minister of Finance, practical suggestions, which we will discuss even more in the next one or two days, until the Government completes the measures to be announced next week,” he said. He added that the Economy and Competitiveness Council intended to help businesses and the economy in general with practical measures, aiming not only to investments by the state to help businesses, but also targeting smart ways in which the state could collect money, which is necessary in these difficult times.
  • Cyprus will tap the European Stability Mechanism’s Pandemic Crisis Support fund to cover its elevated healthcare expenditure due to the coronavirus outbreak, Minister of Finance Constantinos Petrides has said. “Of course we will utilize the ESM for healthcare expenditure,” he said during a web broadcast “Science Hoaxes”. Petrides added that the Ministry of Finance will evaluate the total healthcare spending due to the Covid-19 pandemic and apply to the ESM. Cyprus has earmarked additional funds amounting to €100 million as part of the Covid-19 response package announced by the government. Petrides said increase healthcare spending include a new intensive care unit in the Nicosia General Hospital and diagnostic checks for Covid-19 infections. “The aim is to value these spending and to draw cheap lending from the ESM,” he added. Under the terms Pandemic Crisis Support, ESM member states can secure loans of up to 2% of their GDP in 2019, with loan maturities up to 10 years. The only prerequisite stipulates that states should commit to use ESM funds to support domestic financing of direct and indirect healthcare, cure and prevention related costs due to the Covid-19 crisis.
  • The end of restrictions of movement signals the end of the 8998 SMS service which over the seven weeks of March 26 to May 20 had granted more than 16.1 million permissions of ‘movement by exception’. Figures from the deputy ministry of research, innovation and digital policy published by CNA show that a total of 16,107,129 approvals were given in the near two month period. Between March 26 and May 3, when the public was restricted to one SMS a day, a total of 8,222,612 permissions were granted. From May 4 to May 20, when the public was allowed three text messages, the number of approved requests to the 8998 service was 7,884,517. Another 79,291 were given permission through the IVR Call center from April 9 when it started operation through to May 20. The three most popular reasons for movement by exception were 2 — shopping, 6 — for personal exercise or walking a pet and 8 — other, accounting for around 20% each of the total.
  • Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Thursday that payment was made today to 36,500 eligible beneficiaries of three of the government’s support schemes. In a message on Twitter, she said that payment was made for the child care allowance, special sick leave and special allowance to the self-employed. The allowances are for the period of April 13 to May 12. The special unemployment allowance for employees of companies which had completely or partially suspended operation will be paid in the next few days, she added.

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