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Coronavirus: As SMSs part of relaxation discussion, how much ire did they provoke?

Lock Down 06

The cabinet will meet later today to draw up a plan of action for the coming months for the expected gradual lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

One of the most contentious issues has been the need to send an SMS before leaving the house. How long this will continue for will be an issue to be decided by the Council of Ministers, while it is believed it will remain in place in February although people will be allowed to send three each day rather than the current two. Although there is also the possibility the system will be dropped altogether by the middle of the month.

The specific measure, which was also enforced during the first lockdown in 2020, drew mixed reactions from the public when it was reintroduced earlier this month, with a €300 fine for those infringing it.

“I would take the short-term mental exhaustion that comes with policing our movements over the long-term consequences of constantly opening and shutting,” said Stella Eliadou, 26. “I’d rather have an extra month of this than go back into lockdown”.

Not all young people shared this opinion. Emily Efstathiou, 24, said that “being forced to text the government to go for a walk is quite problematic. As a young person I feel suffocated and I am not the only one. A lot of people my age feel the same. This police state is just adding extra pressure that most of us are unable to handle anymore.”

Constantinos, a 22-year-old student who didn’t want his surname published, said that while he understands why the measure might need to stay in place, “it makes me feel trapped. Having to attend university from home is bad enough,” he said.

“People here will find a way to skirt around any measure. Just look at what happened at Troodos this weekend – imagine what will happen if they drop it!” Andreas Nicolaou, 82, said. “Not that the police is very thorough with checks but then again, they can’t check everyone”.

Yianna Christodoulou was more skeptical of the government’s motives. “With governments, if you give an inch they tend to take a mile, and any freedom you lose, you don’t get back,” she said. “Look at 911, all the travel restrictions are still there after all these years. It only takes a second to send an SMS. Not rescinding or expanding the measures – that would be bad.”

Nonetheless, there were also those who are flat-out opposed to the specific measure. “Apparently each SMS is good for up to 3 hours, but who gets to decide how much time I need? Unbelievable stuff!” Iacovos Kyriacou said. “I just hope rationality will prevail and they scrap them”.

After Monday’s meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades and the advisory committee on coronavirus cabinet will discuss the moves today, and decisions will be announced by the health minister at lunchtime.

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