COVID19 – Clarifications on the decisions of the Council of Ministers – July 2, 2021 – Issued Sunday July 3rd

As per Minister of Health a number of clarifications to the decisions of the Council of Ministers have announced today in Greek here:

PILLAR 1: Provision of incentives to encourage and expedite the vaccination program

In the context of efforts to speed up the vaccination program and to encourage citizens, especially young people, to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the following incentives have been decided at this stage:

  1. Grant of holiday allowance to vaccinated people from July 15 to August 31. The details of the vacation allowance plan will be announced by the competent Ministry of Tourism on Monday, July 5th.
  1. Granting a five-day honorary leave to those national guardsmen who were vaccinated or will be vaccinated until August 31, 2021. The honorary days will be granted to the national guardsmen of the 2020 ESSO as well as to the conscripts of the 2021 ESSO. The decision was taken after a suggestion by the Minister of Defense Mr. Charalambos Petridis and more details will be given in the near future by the Ministry of Defense.
  1. In order to encourage the vaccination of employees, so as to ensure that the workplace will continue to operate as safely as possible, it was decided to grant special leave on the days of their vaccination to public, wider public sector and private sector employees  . The days (one if vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson monosodium vaccine and two if vaccination with the AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines) will be extra and will not be deducted from the employee’s annual leave of absence.

The same regulation will apply to the cases of working parents / legal guardians of a minor who will be vaccinated. It is understood that the parent / legal guardian who will accompany the minor for vaccination must provide a copy of their child’s Vaccination Card for confirmation.

PILLAR 2: Authorization of the Minister of Health to continue the consultation with public law organizations and private organizations and companies 

With the main aim of finding additional incentives to encourage young people aged 18-30 to be vaccinated, the Council of Ministers authorized the Minister of Health to proceed in the next few days with consultations with private and public sector organizations, as well as private companies associations. The Minister of Health, after the completion of the consultation, will present to the Council of Ministers in its next session the framework of suggestions for discussion and/or decision-making.

Pillar 3: Stricter measures in crowd-concentration and increased risk of virus transmission areas, where outbreaks have become apparent

According to the data of the Tracing Team, in the last few days, large numbers of cases have been recorded in places of increased crowds, such as bars, clubs, places of entertainment,  as well as in social events, such as weddings, graduation parties, birthday parties etc. Indicatively, case clusters associated with entertainment venues number more than 50 people, complicating the task of tracking. In many cases, the necessary cooperation in terms of cases to declare their contacts is not forthcoming, resulting in valuable time waste and increasing the likelihood of the virus spreading in the community.

Therefore, in order to minimize the phenomenon of large case clusters, but also to give the right to all citizens, vaccinated or not, to socialize safely, the following were decided by the Ministry:

  1. From 9 July, a SafePass will be required both for indoor and outdoor areas, where there is an increased risk of transmission and more than 20 people congregate (e.g. workplaces, bars, clubs, weddings, graduation and birthday parties, etc.).

As a reminder, SafePass is valid for people aged 12 and over and the conditions for obtaining it are the possession of a certificate of completion of the vaccination regimen, or the possession of proof of recovery from COVID-19 disease in the last 6 months, or the possession of a negative result from PCR or rapid antigen test. It is clarified that as of  July 9, and in cases of SafePass possession with a negative result from  a PCR or rapidtest antigen test, this should be valid for 72 hours.

  1. From 9 July to 20 July, entrance in football matches is allowed, at 50% of the stadiums’ full capacity only for people who have completed their vaccination schedule or have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine and 3 weeks have passed, for people who hold a 72-hour negative PCR certificate, or for people who have had COVID-19 within the past 6 months. The 50% capacity criteria also applies to cinemas, theaters and concerts.
  1. From July 21, entrance in football matches to 75% of the full capacity of stadiums is allowed only for people who have completed their vaccination schedule and for people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the last 6 months. The 75% of capacity criteria also applies to cinemas, theaters and concerts.
  1. From August 1, 2021, Cypriots and passengers legally residing in the Republic of Cyprus must follow the protocols that apply to all passengers, unless they have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine. Specifically, only people who have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine will be entitled to have a molecular examination at the airports of the Republic upon arrival.

For example, if a Cypriot or permanent resident of the Republic travels to Cyprus from an Orange Category country (one negative PCR test), he will be able to perform a PCR test at airports upon arrival, only if he has been vaccinated with at least the 1st dose of the vaccine or if he has a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 in the last 6 months. If one of the above conditions does not apply, the passenger must present a negative result from a PCR test from his country of origin valid for 72 hours.

Respectively, Cypriots and passengers permanently residing in the Republic traveling to Cyprus from a Red Category country (two negative PCR tests), will be able to perform one of the two PCR tests at the airports upon arrival, only if they have vaccinated with at least the first dose of the vaccine or if they have a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 in the last 6 months.

The 2nd test will be carried out after 72 hours from arrival at his/her own expense. If one of the above conditions does not apply, the passenger must present a negative result from a PCR examination from his country of origin with a validity of 72 hours and make the 2nd on arrival at the airports of the Republic, at his/her own expense.

The decision excludes minors aged 12-15 years and persons 16 years and older with serious health problems who are not entitled to be vaccinated.

Pillar 4: Intensification the public awareness campaign on vaccinations, with a focus on young people.

The purpose of the decision is to provide valid information to the public about the benefits of vaccination, according to scientific data, in order to allay concerns about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

Pillar 5: Tightening of  controls and monitoring of the implementation of protocols and health guidelines.

The controls by the Police and the competent Ministries will be intensified in the next period, in order to determine the degree of observance of the decisions and the health protocols, especially in areas of high convergence, where the risk of transmission of the virus is higher.

In addition to the above, the Council of Ministers decided to abolish the provision of the free rapid antigen test program from 1 August. The decision excludes minors aged 12-15 years and persons 16 years and older with serious health problems who are not entitled to be vaccinated. It is clarified that the program of the Ministry of Health will continue after August 1, however, apart from the two groups of the population that are excluded, the cost of conducting the tests will be borne by the citizen.

It is noted that in parallel with the program of the Ministry of Health, citizens wishing to undergo rapid antigen test, still have the option to perform the test privately in clinical laboratories and pharmacies that meet the criteria of the Ministry of Health (relevant announcements with the list issued regularly). More details on the cost and the procedure to be followed will be issued in the coming days.

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