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Our View: The SMS system is about maintaining Project Fear not public health

ÊÏÑÙÍÏÚÏÓ ÌÅÔÑÁ ÁÐÁÃÏÑÅÕÓÇ ÊÕÊËÏÖÏÑÉÁÓ ÅËÅÃ×ÏÓ

The restrictions on free movement that were imposed for three weeks from January 10 were not scrapped on February 1 but were left in place without explanation, and on Wednesday were extended to the end of February by the council of ministers. For seven weeks, people will have had to secure state authorisation by SMS to leave their house, not more than twice a day, for anything other than going to work.

Again, after Wednesday’s announcement, there was no explanation why the SMS practice had to stay in force until the end of the month. Such is the arrogance of rule by decree, that the government feels no obligation to offer any explanation or justification for its illiberal measure that no other EU member state, apart from Greece, has dared to impose. All it has to say is that it is protecting public health to carry on infringing our liberties.

The epidemiological situation has improved significantly in the last few weeks with the number of daily cases having fallen significantly, the positivity rate of testing is 0.37 per cent and less than 50 per cent of hospital capacity is being used for Covid-19 patients; also, the very old who are the most vulnerable to the virus have been vaccinated. So what is the reason for the state carrying on policing our movements and fining people for being outdoors without state authorisation?

This is what a government announcement said yesterday: “Given that the new variants detected so far in most EU countries, including Cyprus, cause more aggressive and rapid transmission of the virus, the competent ministers agreed that the de-escalation of measures should be done slowly and carefully, in order to avoid deterioration of the epidemiological picture,” it added. Now there are the new variants of the virus to frighten people into submission to the government’s repressive measures.

The paradox is that the SMS system is not keeping people indoors, because now that the shops have opened they can be out for five to six hours supposedly shopping, with SMS approval, even if they buy nothing; they can also be driving to and from work all day long without the police able to stop them, and visit four friends or relatives in four different houses on the same message. So why has the government kept this idiotic measure in place considering there are so many ways for the public to get round it?

It is not to protect public health because the measure does not keep people in their homes any longer. It is primarily to maintain Project Fear, which makes it easier to subjugate and control people. Sadly, this is working very well, with nobody prepared to protest about this flagrant violation of rights and freedoms by the state.

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