The Tuesday edition of a daily paper reported that tourists would not be subject to the SMS tyranny for their movements. It said the deputy ministry for tourism had given its approval to this arrangement and published a document that they could obtain from their travel agent or hotel, which stated that “movement is only permitted from 06:00 to 23:00 in line with the restrictions of movement imposed by the Ministry of Health, and destination protocols.”
Nowhere in the document, which has the logos of the Cyprus Hotel Association, Stek and ACTA at the top, is there mention of the SMS request or of the quota of two outings per day on weekdays. In fact, the document is a free all-day pass for tourists, who will only have to show this to the police in the extremely unlikely event that foreigners wondering about the coastal resorts are stopped and asked to provide authorisation for movement.
By Tuesday afternoon, the authorities had realised that this decision was not just a glaring case of discrimination against local residents, who were still restricted to two outings per day via SMS authorisation, but it also exposed the government myth that the SMS scheme helped control the spread of the virus. On Tuesday evening, the Cyprus Hotel Association said that tourists were subject to the same movement rules as the rest of us and this was backed by the deputy ministry on Wednesday.
We suspect the authorities are being disingenuous in claiming tourists were not exempt from the SMS practice. No tourist would have come to Cyprus if they were told their holiday would be subject to movement restrictions and police checks. This was why the above- mentioned document, which has no legal validity (hotel associations and travel agents have no authority to overrule the decrees) was created. It was to assure tourists that if they visited Cyprus, they would not require state permission to leave their hotel.
While it is perfectly reasonable to give such an assurance to tourists, because otherwise they would go on holiday somewhere else, this cannot be done in the devious way the government has chosen, so it could carry on imposing different rules on locals. If tourists can move freely all day long so should the rest of us. All the government has to do is scrap the SMS system which serves no practical purpose – it certainly does not restrict the spread of the virus – for everyone and it will no longer have to think up of ways to fool its citizens.