Thousands of work-hours must have been needed to draft the new rules, also known as the gradual lifting of the restrictions. It is ironic that this partial lifting of restrictions, announced in outline by President Anastasiades on Wednesday night, required a very long list of new, admittedly less stringent, restrictions to replace the much more straightforward old ones. And all this work was done for a regime of regulations, some of which will only be in force for a little more than two weeks – from May 4 to May 20.
Perhaps the government’s reasoning was that more time is necessary for people to become fully accustomed to the reality of living with the coronavirus, rather than thinking that the threat of the spread of the virus is over and abandoning the precautions they had been taking. The new raft of rules is primarily intended to maintain some fear factor among the population and prevent any laxness and complacency slipping into our behaviour. Whether this objective will be achieved remains to be seen.
All the new rules, presented in detail on Thursday by the ministers of finance, health and labour, could form the content of a booklet that business owners and individuals will have to consult regularly to get things right, lest they fall foul of the authorities. The labour ministry will be sending out inspectors to businesses to make sure that there is just one worker per eight square metres and each is two metres away from the other; the number of employees would have to be on a sign to assist inspectors….
The list is extremely long and also contains measures that are in direct conflict. For instance, travel is not allowed from one district to another, unless someone is visiting elderly relatives or will be going swimming. So as long as you have a towel and a swimming costume in your car you can drive to any coastal district from Nicosia, because nobody will check if you actually went for a swim. As for moving the start of the curfew back from 9pm to 10pm, what was the point? Will this make any difference to anyone, especially as bars and restaurants are not to open until May 21?
At least the number of authorisations for going out each day have increased from one to three, though the list of options will have got longer. Would swimming be part of the ‘physical exercise’ option or will it be a new category, to prevent a Nicosia resident from citing ‘exercise’ to drive to Paphos for a swim? At least in three weeks all the restrictions on movement will be lifted and some normality will be restored to our lives, although there will be plenty of rules to replace the restrictions.