Although all children will be back at school and more people will allowed into gyms and private tuition centres the most unnecessary restriction of all – state authorisation for going anywhere – has remained in place. The government, very generously, decided to increase the number of authorisations we are entitled to in order to go out, to three on Saturday and Sunday. On weekdays we will remain on two authorisations.
This SMS scheme is one of the most repressive measures imposed by the government, a flagrant violation of our rights. Like an authoritarian regime, the government has used the emergency situation to take away our personal liberty by decree and now refuses to give it back, even though no justification exists for keeping it in place. Messaging to go somewhere, is repression for repression’s sake, because the measure has absolutely nothing to do with protecting public health.
As we have written in the past, a person can be out and about for 10 hours or more on a single SMS for shopping and for another five hours on second SMS for having a coffee. The authorisation refers to a ‘reasonable amount of time’, which is subject to any interpretation, because the ‘reasonable’ is not defined by law. Add to this all the people driving to and from work, taking children to school and afternoon lessons and picking them up and it becomes clear that the messaging is nothing more than a gratuitously repressive measure – an exercise of state power over citizens.
And to underline this state power, the messaging decree, allows policemen to stop a citizen on the street or in their car and demand to see the SMS authorisation plus ID. They can issue a fine of €300 because someone omitted to seek authorisation to go to the kiosk. For what? For the implementation of a totally ineffective measure that does not serve the purpose for which it was introduced.
The absurdity does not end there. Will the tourists that will be arriving in Cyprus this month be limited to two SMS authorisations per day like the rest of us or will they be exempt because we want to keep them happy? It is hardly good for business for police to patrol tourist areas and fine visitors because they have no state authorisation to go for a drive or to visit a restaurant. But if the tourists are allowed to roam freely, at a time when everyone else is subject to restrictions does this not debunk the myth about the SMS measure protecting public health?
The most worrying aspect of this SMS business is that the government has kept a flagrantly repressive measure in force, a measure that does not protect public health in any way, because there has been no public reaction to this oppression. This is a government that showing total disregard for the rights of it citizens, because it can get away with it.