Cyprus is to go back into lockdown in a bid to curb an aggressive rise in coronavirus infections.
From Sunday until January 31, businesses such as hairdressers, beauty salons and department stores will be closed, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said Friday.
Authorities are also reintroducing a text messaging system that grants people permission to leave their home — which is allowed only for work, shopping for essentials, visiting a doctor or exercising, with just two outside trips a day permitted. The current curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. will remain in place.
Distance learning will be reintroduced in schools, which have not reopened since the Christmas and New Year holidays. Kindergartens will remain open.
Cypriot authorities have registered 26,208 coronavirus cases since early March and 140 deaths. There has been a spike in infections over the past month, with cases regularly exceeding 300 a day in the nation of around 1.2 million population.
The new, more contagious variant of the virus was detected in a number of travellers from Britain between December 6 and 20, according to the health ministry.
Cyprus began its vaccination program on December 27, starting with the elderly. President Nicos Anastasiades said in an interview with local media that the authorities have requested extra vaccines from its neighbour and close ally Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the request would be considered in consultation with experts, according to Anastasiades.
Neighboring Greece is expected to announce an extension to its strict lockdown measures for at least another week, although kindergartens and primary schools will open again on Monday.
Greece entered a second national lockdown in early November, with most businesses, schools and churches remaining shut and people only allowed to leave home for work, shopping, visiting a doctor or exercising.
Some of the measures were relaxed over the holidays only to be reinstated last weekend. Authorities fear there will be a rise in the number of cases because of the Christmas relaxation of the rules.
Greek authorities also introduced new restrictions for travelers, who must now show a negative test from within 72 hours of their arrival and then self-isolate for seven days.
Cyprus set for second coronavirus lockdown The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Politico.