NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus will introduce a new lockdown to quell rising COVID-19 infections from Jan. 10, its health minister said on Friday, the country’s second since the start of the pandemic.
Retail businesses such as hairdressers, beauty parlours and large department stores will shut until Jan. 31, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told a news conference.
People will be allowed to leave home just twice a day for specific reasons such as buying groceries or medicines and taking exercise, while a current curfew banning movement from 2100 to 0500 daily will remain in force.
Distance learning will be re-introduced in schools, currently shut for the Christmas and New Year holidays. Kindergartens will remain open, he said.
Cyprus has recorded 26,208 cases of COVID-19 since its first case was recorded in early March 2020, and 140 deaths. There has been an aggressive spike in infections over the past month, with cases regularly exceeding 300 a day.
A new, more contagious variant of the virus was detected in a number of travellers arriving from Britain between Dec. 6-20, the health ministry said on Jan. 3.
Cyprus, like most European Union member states, began innoculating its population on Dec. 27, starting with the elderly.
Authorities have also requested a supplementary amount of vaccines from neighbour and close ally Israel, Cypriot President Nicos Anastassiades told the daily Politis in an interview due to be published in two parts from Sunday, the newspaper said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the request would be considered in consultation with experts, Politis quoted Anastasiades as saying.
Israel has the highest vaccination rates for COVID-19 worldwide.
Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Gareth Jones
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