The revised package of support for the economy from the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic is headed to the cabinet on Thursday. It was discussed during a marathon teleconference Tuesday afternoon by Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou and Central Bank Governor Constantinos Herodotou. In a post on Twitter after the meeting Petrides said he has a long conference call with party leaders and the goal was to convene the House as soon as possible. The package amounts to about 12% of GDP in direct budgetary support and a liquidity boost through deferred government revenue on top of a €2 billion bank guarantee scheme. Reports said the bills would be brought before the cabinet on Thursday and then submitted to the House. House Speaker Demetris Syllouris is due to hold a teleconference on Wednesday with the party leaders to determine the procedure for the adoption of the bills. Sources told CNA the package also includes a ban on evictions for three months and a suspension on payment to the inland revenue of tax arrears for three months. The parties, the report said allegedly set a condition for approval of the government’s bank guarantee that would set clear terms and safeguards that such support would be passed on to those who needed it the most.
The Finance Ministry plans to provide the domestic market with loans up to €2 billion to maintain a security cushion. And despite the economic difficulties two advantages prevail in Cyprus since the current state liquidity is at €1.4 billion and the banking system’s liquidity surplus is at € 14 billion. These figures allow for the flexible manipulation of the economy by both the government and commercial banks, Phileleftheros reports. The daily also looks at all measures taken by the government in a bid to get the self-employed, private sector and businesses out of the coronavirus crisis as painlessly as possible. There are €462 million worth of fiscal measures on the table, €235 million of which will support one-month’s income. Of these, €180 million are for employees, €20 million for self-employed, €20 million for parental leave, and €15 million for sick leave. The state is expected to pay 220,000 employees and 31,000 self-employed individuals in March in an effort to support all those who are economically vulnerable to the coronavirus. The government wants businesses to stay afloat during the crisis, and after conditions go back to normal to become viable and gradually make a profit while jobs are maintained. In addition to earlier measures, an €11m support for the recovery of the tourism sector was announced, €3m for education, €15m for students, €98m for GESY’s second phase suspension and €100 million as additional health expenditure. It seems that foreclosures are also suspended for three months, along with tenants’ express evictions in the case where rent is not paid. There is also a 10% reduction in electricity charges. The government’s package of measures also includes direct support to businesses with a direct loss of revenue, such as suspension of VAT and Social Security payments.
Thousands sought permission to leave the house as soon as restrictions on movement came into force at 6 pm yesterday, overloading the system and forcing authorities to ask the public to use printed forms or handwritten personal statements. Deputy minister for innovation Kyriakos Kokkinos told CyBC on Wednesday morning that the system had received about 30,000 requests within the first half hour of going into operation. He said the technical issue was being resolved but authorities may consider introducing additional filters — such as restrictions on the number of times one can apply — so as to better manage the situation. The system is therefore not currently in operation and the public should either download the form or fill a personal statement giving the required information (name, ID, postal code, reason to leave house, date and time) to show to police if stopped.
Nine bookings were made overnight in Paphos, ten in Limassol, and two arrests in Nicosia in the first signs of the government’s lockdown which came into effect. Some reports said as many as 30-35 bookings were made islandwide of people out and about without permission. In Paphos, two of the bookings involved bar owners who violated the ban. The remainder were two drivers and five pedestrians who were out without the required permission in various parts of the town. According to reports in Greek Cypriot media Wednesday morning, police arrested one person in Strovolos, Nicosia late in the evening in front of the town hall. There were two people in the vehicle who had no papers but they reportedly got into an argument and allegedly verbally abused the officers and were arrested.
President Anastasiades warned late on Tuesday of asymmetric consequences, if people don’t fully comply with measures against COVID-19. He also clarified that if people misuse measures announced by the government, the next step will be to ban all movement without exceptions.
A doctor at the Saint George & Blue Cross private hospitals has tested positive for Covid-19 and the hospital has activated all the required protocols. The doctor, a personal doctor who has his office at Saint George, has been in self-isolation for one week, the hospital said. It added that the names of all the health professionals and other members of staff who had come into contact with the doctor have been given to the epidemiological monitoring unit of the Heath Ministry, in line with the protocol and that the hospital was now working with skeleton staff. So far, no member of the medical or other staff at the hospital has exhibited symptoms.
Another two Turkish Cypriots have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total in Turkish-held north Cyprus to 42. Both had come into contact with a confirmed case. Of the 42 positive cases in northern Cyprus, 31 involve German tourists.
A crew member on an Italian cruise ship off the coast of Cyprus was taken to hospital after showing suspected symptoms of the Covid-19. According to the Cyprus News Agency, the Costa Diadema arrived at Limassol port in the early morning hours on Tuesday, where an individual on the cruise liner was transported to Limassol General Hospital. Costa Diadema has a capacity of 5000 but was travelling without passengers following a suspension of cruises by the company due to the Covid-19 pandemic.