Warning to holidaymakers as Cyprus brings back strict Covid rules in response to rising infections
The World Health Organisation has warned the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants are driving infections
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Face masks are now mandatory in all indoor venues and on public transport as the country battles to contain the spread of the virus.
The Ministry of Health said there had been a surge in infections due to the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, meaning protective measures needed to be tightened in a bid to prevent further spread and safeguard public health.
Data from the Epidemiological Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health confirmed a 13% positivity rate from 25 June to 5 July, with 19,503 cases.
As a result, the Council of Ministers approved a proposal by the Ministry for the reintroduction of the mandatory use of a protective mask indoors and in closed spaces, for people over 12 years of age.
The Foreign Office website now states: “As of 8 July 2022, the use of a face mask is compulsory in all indoor venues and on all public transport for everyone aged 12 and above.
“Failure to comply with restrictions may result in a €300 fine.”
Exemptions to the face mask rule apply to the following:
- People who actively drink or eat
- People travelling in their own vehicle either alone or with other family members (including minor children)
- People during sports/physical exercise (e.g. gyms, dance schools)
- Bakers/cooks, only during cooking procedure
- People with special cognitive abilities/mental/developmental disorders who do not comply with mask application
- People with severe neurological/neuromuscular disease which does not allow them to handle the mask
- People with anatomical maxillofacial variations/deformities and/or injury.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health said: “The Ministry of Health reiterates its call for compliance with the personal protection measures (mask, distance, hand hygiene), in order to prevent further deterioration of the epidemiological situation.
“The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the members of the Advisory Scientific Committee, evaluates the data on a daily basis and, if deemed necessary, measures are taken to safeguard Public Health.”
Spain could also reintroduce face mask rules
Rising Covid cases could see stricter measures put back in place in other holiday hotspots this summer, with Spain, Portugal, France and Greece all recording a spike in infections.
The Spanish government has not yet made face masks compulsory in all indoor public spaces again after the rule was lifted in April for bars, shops and restaurants, but it has not been ruled out.
Amós García Rojas, head of the epidemiology section of the general directorate of public health of the government of the Canary Islands, said he has not rejected the idea of demanding masks be worn again indoors “to protect the vulnerable”.
He said: “The pandemic is not gone. It is necessary to continue maintaining certain restrictions and care, perhaps in the obligation to wear a mask indoors, if the situation does not improve.”
Mr Rojas stressed that the current situation “is not as dramatic” as in other waves thanks to Covid vaccines which have managed to “modulate the negative impact” that the pandemic has had, but urged everyone to get vaccinated - and said those who are in contact with vulnerable people should wear masks.
He also warned that mandatory face masks could return in the future if infections carry on rising, adding that if things continue as they are “we will have to act accordingly”.