AT THE RISK of sounding somewhat ‘Karenesque’, some of us hacks have developed an unhealthy interest in observing how our rulers handle social distancing and other coronavirus protocols.
For the most part, even though the president does not wear a mask, the palace, to all intents and purposes employs social distancing during official ceremonies.
However these ceremonies, and there have been several over the past few weeks, are followed by much hand-shaking, back-slapping and other gestures that appear to make a mockery of going to the trouble of placing chairs one metre apart in the first instance, giving merely the illusion of social distancing.
A number of photos last week and again on Tuesday during swearing-in ceremonies for new ministers showed everyone to be impressively compliant with distancing guidelines. Photos following the events however, showed plenty of up-close-and-personal interactions. This is not a critique of that. It’s difficult to break the habits of a lifetime, especially with friends and colleagues.
A similar official event recently at the foreign ministry however raised eyebrows a wee bit higher. When European Commission Vice President Josep Borrell arrived at the ministry there was a huge photo-op involving masks and elbow-bumping with Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides.
A short time later when they came out of their meeting, they were shoulder to shoulder and practically linking arms as they walked towards their respective podiums, which were also stood only a couple of inches apart.
The logical assumption of course is that everyone in government is regularly tested and is negative for coronavirus, allowing them to be free to mingle. This however, begs the question, why bother with the song and dance involving masks and staged social distancing photo-ops at all?
Maybe they’re just sending us a message on the importance of masks and elbow-bumping as we would not like to think there was one rule for the elites and one for the plebs. If ‘following the rules’ is the idea you want to impart, be consistent and don’t send mixed messages literally an hour apart.
Put your masks back on or be up front about not needing to social distance because you can afford to be tested often. Otherwise it makes a mockery of the fact that so many Cypriots on both sides still can’t see each other regularly because, unlike government officials, they can’t pay for tests every three days.
It’s not just in Cyprus where these kinds of mixed messages are at play. All over the West, protesters have been allowed out in their thousands to run riot the past few weeks while authorities clamp down on much smaller gatherings, and on businesses, especially in the UK and parts of the US. It’s as if the virus somehow picks and chooses which gatherings to infect based on the reason someone is out on the streets. Maybe our current reality is really more Kafkaesque than Karenesque.