Cyprus Plan to Exit Coronavirus Crisis

Cyprus Plan to Exit Coronavirus Crisis

On Wednesday, 16th April 2020, the Council of Ministers approved the framework for a strategy to gradually lift the restrictive measures and restart the economy. As stated by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Constantinos Petrides, the first stepwill be the gradual opening of businesses in vital sectors of the economy in early May 2020, provided the epidemiological data allow it (https://www.kathimerini.com.cy/gr/oikonomiki/oikonomia/ypoik-plano-stadiakis-arsis-periorismwn-kai-epanekkinisis-tis-oikonomias).

The Finance Minister announced that the framework consists of three stages that will last until the end of 2021. He also rightfully called on everyone to respect the restrictive measures, in order for the plan to restart the economy, to be realistic and feasible.

He stated, “Essentially, with the pandemic ongoing and the financial cost significantly escalating, numerous EU countries are planning their strategy for gradually lifting restrictions”. He further added that the European Commission had given guidelines, with the aim at a gradual exit from the lockdown. With this in mind, there could be coordination between Member States to avoid causing negative effects to each other (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/15/coronavirus-ministers-approve-plan-to-gradually-re-open-businesses/).

Mr. Petrides also underlined that a “robust and functional economy is a necessary condition for a functional health system”.

The government’s strategy is divided into three stages but progressing from one to the next would be largely defined by the epidemiological data.

Regarding the first stage, this concerns the implementation period of the restrictive measures and the support program for the economy, to deal with the effects of the coronavirus, which has been rolled out to a large extent (https://inbusinessnews.reporter.com.cy/financials/cyprus/article/244824/ypoik-plano-stadiakis-arsis-periorismon-kai-epanekkinisis-tis-oikonomias).

The second stage concerns the opening of businesses that is estimated, provided the pandemic has been contained, to start gradually, around the beginning of May, in vital sectors of the economy. It will take place in a coordinated manner so as not to put the containment effort at risk.

In relation to the above, certain conditions must be met, such as flattening the curve of new cases, the adequacy of the health system, and systematic monitoring through a large number of tests.

According to Mr. Petrides, in determining the strategy and selecting sectors for the gradual lifting of restrictive measures, four more criteria should be considered. In particular, these are the infection risk, the probability of the virus causing serious illness, the importance of the sector to the economy and social life, and the ability of imposing and maintaining safety measures.

Moreover, the third stage concerns restarting the economy, expected to take place between the period of September 2020 until December 2021. Mr. Petrides noted that “The strategy should be flexible and be adjusted, depending on the epidemiological data, allowing economic activity without unnecessary risk in health issues”. He further added that this will include the support for sustainable businesses, measures in areas that will be most affected, the development of digital technology, support for those who will be able to maintain more job positions, and to stimulate demand.

According to Mr. Petrides, based on this framework, the Ministry approved the establishment of a Ministerial Committee, that will be chaired by the Minister of Finance, whereby the Ministers of Health, of Energy, Commerce and Industry, of Transport, Communications and Works, of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance, as well as the Deputy Ministers of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, and of Tourism, will participate.

Also, by the decision of the Council of Ministers, a steering committee will be set up, which will be chaired by a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will be attended by representatives of other Ministries, as well as officials of the epidemiological monitoring unit, of the Ministry of Health.

Mr. Petrides stated that the Ministerial Committee, with the support of the steering committee, will prepare and submit the framework of the strategy and the action plan to the Council of Ministers by the end of April.

He concluded that “In order to make the restart of the economy realistic, I call on everyone to respect the measures and to be very disciplined during the Easter period so that the conditions, thus far, are not overturned”.

The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, in his Easter statement to the public, echoed the above – that implementation of the strategy will depend and is completely interwoven with the course of the reduction in the number of cases” and stressed that “no mistakes are allowed, no complacency is allowed” (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/16/coronavirus-president-says-signs-of-hope-but-a-long-way-to-go-yet/).

With this in mind, he stated that “there is still a long way to go”, and urged the public to stay focused on the task ahead, of containing the spread of the coronavirus, and to strictly adhere to the protection measures and avoid non-essential movements.