Health experts suggest staggered relaxation of Cyprus' near-total lockdown

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NICOSIA, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The team of scientists advising the government of Cyprus on the coronavirus pandemic has suggested a staggered relaxation of the lockdown measures as of the beginning of February, officials said here on Monday.

The team briefed President Nicos Anastasiades on the coronavirus situation and suggested a gradual relaxation of the restrictions following a three-week lockdown, during which all businesses except essential services had to remain closed and movement was restricted.

CyBC state radio quoted unnamed officials as saying that the scientists suggested the reopening of retail shops, barber shops and hair and beauty parlors on Feb. 1.

Restaurants and other hospitality venues may remain closed until March, when the country is expected to start an extensive vaccination campaign against coronavirus.

Restrictions on movement and a night-time curfew will also remain in force until mid-February, with people entitled to go out twice a day after notifying the authorities in text messages and receiving a permission.

The Council of Ministers is scheduled to decide on the proposed changes on Wednesday, according to CyBC radio.

The hospitality sector was restricted to delivery services in some districts of the eastern Mediterranean island in October and the measure was extended to the whole of the country two weeks ago, when the authorities imposed a lockdown, as deaths and new COVID-19 infections surged to record numbers.

Members of the team of scientists said the number of new coronavirus cases has dropped to manageable numbers, but the country's hospitals have still trouble treating the large number of COVID-19 patients. Enditem

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