WELL what a relief that from Monday those who are stuck at home because they belong to a vulnerable group or work in a place that will remain closed, will be able to leave the house three times a day, via SMS authorisation as part of the relaxation of the restrictions on movement.
Why the repressive scheme was not scrapped altogether and we will have to wait for May 21, only the government and its merry band of scientific advisors can say. I can only guess the SMS authorisation was left in place so the government would not be mocked for copying Greece, which announced its scrapping on Tuesday, yet again.
The rest of our government’s relaxations, announced a day later, were very similar – final year students will return to school on May 11, outdoor sporting activity including swimming is allowed from May 4, when retail shops will open – with some minor deviations as in the case of hairdressers and church services.
Is it so important for the Cyprus Republic not to be seen copying Greece, which, after all, has done an excellent job in containing the spread of the virus and keeping fatalities to a minimum? I suspect Prez Nik would not want Greece’s government to be given any credit for his Churchillian leadership in the defeat of the invisible enemy. After all we have been hearing his cheerleaders promoting him as the ideal man to lead the country through crisis.
THE THREE authorisations are a joke, however, considering from Monday the roads will be full of cars and people, with most shops open, hospitals seeing patients and the poor public parasites returning to work, Nik cruelly cutting short their six-week holiday.
The government would need to put three times as many cops on the streets to carry out effective checks. But if we are allowed to go shopping for consumer goods or building materials we can be out and about all day with one authorisation, so what is the point of keeping the scheme?
Are the cops going to stop someone wandering around downtown to ask why she hasn’t bought anything? Sorry officer but they did not have what I was looking for – in my size and/or in the colour I wanted and/or at the price I could afford. I was window shopping, which the decree does not prohibit; I forgot to bring my face mask so I couldn’t enter a shop, can you give me yours?
While we will be free to drive or walk around all day, the night-time curfew will remain although it will start an hour later, at 10pm. I would love to hear the reason for starting it an hour later, because no matter how hard I tried I could not think of one, not even a stupid one.
THE BAN on movement from one district to another has also been kept in place (as in Greece), but everyone is allowed to go swimming in the sea. So there is no ban. We did not want to deprive people in Nicosia of the right to go for a swim, because that would be unequal treatment, said interior minister Nikos Nouris on Thursday morning.
So if you are living in Nicosia, Akaki or Astromeritis and want to go to Paphos, make sure you have a beach bag in the car with towel and swimming costume. And you can go to Paphos via Troodos, even though mountain hiking is not one of the outdoor sports permitted by the decrees, which however do not specify that you should go to the beach closest to your district or get there via the shortest route.
There are ways round the ban for mountain lovers. If the cops stop you going for a stroll in the Troodos mountains, with a Nicosia postal code, you can say that you are on your way to Limassol for a swim, but run out of soujoukkos, so you secured authorisation to go shopping and were looking for a shop in the hills to buy your favourite snack. Alternatively, you can say you are going to the Trooditissa monastery church for your authorised personal prayers, which you can only carry out after a soul-cleansing walk in the mountain forest.
THE RELAXATION of the measures was a very bitter blow to the labour aristocracy of public parasites the vast majority of whom used the coronavirus as an excuse for a six-week holiday on full pay over and above their annual leave entitlement.
Suddenly 90% of parasites were either vulnerable or had young children to look after or were living with elderly parents or were afraid of the virus. It took the government six weeks to put an end to this farce.
On Wednesday night Prez Nik, pissed off with the situation, mustered his Churchillian courage to call a premature end to the vacation; he ordered them all to return to work on Monday, as well as the leeches of the semi-governmental organisations that were also at home suffering from the coronavirus blues that afflicted 90 per cent of the parasite population.
BEFORE anyone mentions the heroic health professionals of the state hospitals on the front-line, putting their lives at risk every day, looking after Covid-19 sufferers, we should look at the numbers. The health professionals, who are doing a great job are a tiny fraction of the 6,000 employed by the state.
On Friday, according to the Epidemiological Supervision Unit there were 13 cases at Famagusta hospital, one of whom was in the ICU; Nicosia hospital had five patients in the ICU, of which three were on ventilators, while Limassol had one patient on a ventilator. How many health professionals are needed to look after 19 patients? Twenty, 30, 50, or 100 that would ensure five health professionals per patient?
That leaves 5,900 that were heroically doing no work at all, considering state hospitals have been closed for the last six weeks, using less than 10 per cent of their bed capacity. Most urgent cases went to private hospitals.
One third, an estimated 2,000, of the heroic health workers took a coronavirus vacation like their colleagues in the civil disservice, citing the usual reasons – vulnerability, elderly relatives and young kids. Those that could not cite these reasons, secured sick leave, signed by one of the heroic doctors on front-line of the vacation industry.
THE UNIONS of the laziest public parasites, the teachers, have been resorting to their usual obstruction tactics to avoid returning to schools. Prez Nik announced the return of final year students a week on Monday, but union bosses have been digging in their heels on the reopening of primary schools and the rest of the years of secondary schools.
There must be consultations and dialogue with the education minister, insist the crafty union bosses, as if the reopening of schools required their approval and had to be negotiated. They are experts in dialogue that leads nowhere, and the Prez is playing along, ordering the education minister to engage in fruitless talks, instead of displaying his Churchillian qualities and commanding them to return to work.
Prez Nik, lost it at Thursday’s meeting with the teaching union bosses at the presidential palace. While he was trying to commit them to a date for reopening the schools, the only thing the Oelmek boss, Costas Hadjisavvas, would say was “first the dialogue must be completed.” The fourth time he repeated this, Nik told him, “if you tell me once more the dialogue must be completed, I will kill myself.” Hadjisavvas spared him and the dialogue started on Friday, without suffocating time-frames for its completion.
LAST WEEK we wrote about the coronavirus celebrities and the ubiquity of Cyprus University professor Leontios Kostrikis, relentlessly championed by Phil who is treating him as some kind of messiah. He featured on the paper’s front page on Monday, a bland quote of his presented in bold print. On Wednesday, again on the front page, Phil said: “When you hear Leontios Kostrikis announcing a somewhat increased number of infections, but assuring that this does not worry the scientists, the suspicion of optimism, that existed for days, becomes a certainty.” If Kostrikis said it, it’s gospel.
ON TUESDAY the professor, surprisingly was not on Phil’s front page, but one of his quotes, suggesting his celebrity status was undesirable, was highlighted in the inside pages. “I am not afraid to come to the front even if I take bullets, but when this ill is over I will disappear.”
Bullets he might not be afraid of, but threatening phone messages were a different story. Some anti-vaccination nutcase, who did not bother to conceal his number, left a message on Kostrikis’ telephone, making general threats of the type “I will sort you out, you will see what will happen to you, you are a Muslim and we will get organised against you.”
Kostrikis reported the case to the police, and Kostrikis failed to appear on his 6pm TV spot to read Wednesday’s number of confirmed cases, because he went to the police to give a statement. He could have gone after appearing on TV, but his absence made the threat that most people would not have bothered reporting to the cops seem much more dramatic. And it was reported on the front page of Phil with a pic of the professor, who is not afraid to take bullets.
DIKO deputy, Zacharias Koulias, was fined by €300 by cops because he was, allegedly seen sitting in a Larnaca grill house talking with two other men, while waiting for his takeaway meal; he allegedly had no authorisation for being out of his house.
Koulias, claimed he had been wrongly booked and said he reported the case to the independent authority for complaints against the police. Meanwhile, in what could only be taken as a spoof, one Phil writer suggested Koulias’ political opponents wanted him caught because they associated him with the 2004 referendum ‘no’ vote Tassos and were “blinded by hatred.” ‘No’ voters as victims of persecution is a joke we never heard before, even though I suspect the writer was not joking.
SPEAKING of jokes you have to mention our new official line about Turkey’s latest violations of our EEZ, started by our underworked foreign minister, Nicos Christodoulides who has been reduced to travel agent duties, bringing back students from abroad, since the outbreak of the pandemic. The Yavuz drillship was carrying illegal drilling in the middle of a pandemic, we are repeatedly told by Christodoulides, parties, newspapers and patriotic politicians. Why the shock? Was it because the Yavuz was ignoring our government’s restrictions on movement?
Surely an illegality is an illegality, whether there is a pandemic or not. The logic of this idiotic line is that illegal drilling in our EEZ would have been less unacceptable to Christodoulides and his fellow travellers, if there was no pandemic.