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Our View: There can be no more lockdowns, safety measures the only way

It is becoming increasingly more difficult keeping up with changing measures aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19. Every week there seem to be new measures for the health ministry to announce, based on the suggestions of the government’s scientific advisory team.

Whereas, a little over a week ago, the government decided to tighten measures in Limassol, where there had been a spike in cases – limiting gatherings in homes and public venues to 10 – this week it announced their relaxation. Gatherings of up to 50 would be allowed it said on Tuesday because the coronavirus in the community was showing signs of decline. Ironically, a few hours after the announcement, 25 new cases were reported plus a coronavirus-related death. On Wednesday the new cases were down to 14, four from abroad.

These fluctuations lead to constantly changing safety rules, which nevertheless cannot be adjusted every day. Police, however, are enforcing the decrees with great zeal, carrying out many hundreds of inspections every day and booking individuals and businesses for not complying with the safety rules. A Larnaca bar was fined €8,000 for violating safety measures – staff were not wearing face masks. Dozens of individuals are fined every day for not wearing a face mask when inside shops etc. There are no plans to lower the high fines at the moment because of the decline in cases.

As time passes, people will adapt to the new conditions and fewer will violate them, but authorities need to reinforce the message that face masks, social distancing, washing of hands are the new way of life, as Professor Leotios Kostrikkis said on Monday. The latest measures have to become the modus vivendi for the public for the next six months, until vaccines are available, he said. Perhaps he should also have stressed that this is the only way to get through the next three, six or nine months without another destructive lockdown that nobody can afford – not the state, not businesses and not households.

Complying with the safety measures is the only way to ensure a level of normality and avoid another lockdown and it appears the heavy fines have been working as the number of business and individuals being booked is steadily falling. Perhaps the authorities should keep reminding people that complying with the safety rules is the only way to keep the economy open. Soon there will have to be a decision on the opening of schools, so it is vitally important to keep repeating this message, if we are not to suffer the big disruption of closed schools.

There could be some more spikes in cases along the road, but we will be able to cope as long as we accept, as Kostrikkis said, that safety measures are our modus vivendi.


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