Answers to questions submitted by CIBA member companies to the Ministry of Health, 29/01/21 ūüóď

After the issue of the latest decree on re-opening of Businesses we have received a number of questions for which we have received answers from the Ministry of Health.

The answers were in Greek and are also attached for exact reference.

The questions were listed as below:

1. ThőŅse companies that currently, in collaboration with ¬†private testing companies, test all the staff on a weekly basis will need to keep data / receipts, and if so what kind of reporting is needed in case of control?

2. The percentage of 20% will be based on the total percentage of staff of the company or only those who will be in the offices. (eg in companies where 50% work from home, only 50% who go to the office will be subject to rapid tests?

3. The check should be done for different employees each week?

4. What should the Employer hold? Copy of Rapid Test certificate and Archive in EXCEL?

The Ministry of Health in answering the above stated the following:

Regarding questions under numbers 1 and 4:

  1. Yes, every company should keep evidence of rapid antigen testing on its staff, for inspection by the competent authority when requested. Keeping the data in excel file format is optional and might be useful and helpful in cases of companies with a large number of staff but is not required evidence for the competent authority.

Regarding questions under numbers 2 and 3:

  1. The percentage of 20% of the staff that must have a valid rapid antigen test concerns the persons who are at all times physically in the workplace of the company. When a company is visited by the Officer of the competent authority or a person of the Cyprus Police in order to make the relevant check, he/she will request that 20% of the employees (or 3 or 4 people if the company employs less than 11 people in total) who are there in the office / store of the company at the moment, have a negative rapid test which is not older than 7 days.

  1. It is advised that any business, where possible, maintain two fixed groups of employees, where one group will work one week and another group the next week.

That is, if a company has 30 staff members, to ensure as much as possible the division into two fixed groups A and B (15 people in each group), and group A to go to work in weeks 1 and 3, while group B weeks 2 and 4.  In this example, in week 1 at least 4 people in group A must have a valid rapid test (20% of 15 = 3 but a minimum of 4 people is valid if the physical presence is more than 10 people), and in week 2 to have at least 4 people in group B with a valid rapid test. Whether in week 3, of Group A the 4 people who will have a valid rapid test should be different from those of week 1 is not absolute. However, it is best to have everyone undergo a rapid test over time. It is understood, however, that other specific parameters must be taken into account: e.g. priority may be given to those who have more contact with customers being tested more frequently.

It should be noted that, as mentioned in the Press Release (in the second paragraph) of the Ministry of Health dated 27.1.2021 and entitled “Mass control begins with rapid test of workers who are reactivated on February 1”:

 

A condition to return to work is submission of a negative result rapid test.

Related to this, in the Announcement issued by the Ministry of Health on 27.1.2021 entitled “Answers to frequently asked questions about what is changing from February 1 in the context of the lifting of restrictive measures to prevent the pandemic”¬†HERE¬†, states the following:

‚ÄúEmployees who will return to work on February 1 due to the increase of the physical presence rate from 25% to 50%,¬†must undergo a test with rapid antigen test by January 31.‚ÄĚ

 It is therefore important to be clear that those employees in the previous week, or weeks, who did not go to work, either because the Decrees imposed the suspension (eg hairdressers, casinos, etc.) or because they worked from home and will now return to the workplace of the service company (because the latest Decree increases the right to work in the workplace with a physical presence from 25% to 50%) are not entitled to return to the workplace physically if first they have not done a rapid antigen test and this is negative.

Therefore, if for example a food business employs 20 people, then in the week 25-31 January 2021, 5 people (25%) worked in person at the company’s offices, and in the week 1-7 February 2021 they will be entitled to 50% of staff to work in person, there will be 10 people working in the office. It is stressed that¬†the 5 new people¬†(who did not work from the office during the week of January 25-29, 2021)¬†have as a ¬†precondition to returning undergone a rapid antigen test and the result is negative. So in the week of February 1-7, the minimum number of 4 people with a physical presence in the workplace to have a valid negative rapid antigen test, will be covered anyway.

According to the Press Release of the Ministry of Health “Answers to frequently asked questions about what is changing from February 1 in the context of the lifting of restrictive measures to prevent the pandemic”¬†https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/uploads/27012021_Q&As_EL.pdf, at point 15:

  • The result of the rapid test is valid for seven (7) days
  • The employer / company is responsible for coordinating the re-examination of employees, so that at any time and on a weekly basis they have a rapid test in force as defined below:
    • Businesses / services that employ up to 3 people, the test should be done to all employees.
    • Businesses / services that employ from 4 to 10 people, the test should be done on at least 4 employees.
    • Businesses / services that employ more than 10 people, the test should be done on at least 4 people or 20% of employees, whichever is greater in number.

It is clarified that on the above three points regarding the number of people employed by a company, the employees who must have a valid rapid antigen test are the ones who are at all times physically present in the offices of the company.

We hope that this helps solve any questions.