Cyprus Mail
Letters Opinion

Obfuscation, Souperism, and the unvaccinated

Whether it was a genuine oversight or part of their game of playing silly buggers with the public or not, the health ministry is allowing a lot of confusion to reign over the SafePass.

This is not usual. Normally the ministry issues clarifications after a decree is published so that people can be clear about what’s needed when it comes to their daily lives such as where a SafePass might be needed and where it might not be needed.

That is what they did when it was first announced some months ago. People were told it would not be needed at supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and public service offices.

However this time there is little clarity unless people plough through the 33 pages published in the Official Gazette on Friday, which I have done three times.

For instance, on July 2, an announcement from the Press and Information Office stated that from July 9, a SafePass would be necessary for both indoor and outdoor spaces “where more than 20 people at a time gather (such as workplaces, bars, nightclubs, weddings, graduation parties, birthdays etc)”.

This seemed to imply that when it came to workplaces, if fewer than 20 people were there, the SafePass would not be needed. By July 7, when the minister spoke again, that part was missing. He said the SafePass applied, and I quote verbatim, to “dining establishment, events or reception venues, nightclubs, entertainment venues, music and dance venues, bars, discos, theatres, amphitheatres, theatres, cinemas, religious places and stadiums, excluding football stadiums”.

On Friday, July 9, the decree was published. People are in a bit of a frenzy not knowing for sure which businesses are allowed to ask for a SafePass or not. The government is seemingly leaving it up to businesses to decide and not clarifying where a SafePass is not in fact needed. Maybe they don’t want people to know because the more restrictions are place on the unvaccinated, the more they will be likely to take the jab.

To start with, the decree itself does not mention the word ‘SafePass’ or ‘CovPass’ anywhere even though government officials refer to the pass all the time. Whether the omission is some sort of legal sidestep, it hard to say. The decree spells out the conditions that align with what we know as the ‘SafePass’ without actually using the word.

Many people are under the impression that every business can ask for a SafePass. They cannot. The decree clearly states that pharmacies and supermarkets are exempt. Interestingly, this time around, there is zero mention of banks or public service offices, not needing a SafePass.

What it does show is that for retail shops under 500 square metres, outside of malls and department stores, a SafePass is not required and the shops must just follow the usual health protocols in the same way they’ve been doing up to now. Street markets and flea markets are allowed.

As far as restaurants, taverns, cafes, pubs, snack bars and bars, canteens , sports clubs, cultural clubs, associations, are concerned, the SafePass will apply indoors obviously. But when it comes to outdoors, the establishment would need to have an outdoor capacity of 20 or more for the SafePass to apply. So that suggests that a small cafe that cannot accommodate more than 20 people outside, can’t ask for a SafePass from customers who wish to sit outside.

As for workplaces, they’ve outdone themselves. Not only must all employees do twice-weekly rapid tests, so must the self-employed, irrespective of whether they have any contact with the public or not. Presumably that means if you sit at home and make things to sell online, you still need a SafePass.

During the Great Irish Famine from 1845 to 1852, some Protestant charities would only feed the starving Catholics a bowl of soup if they converted. The phenomenon, though not widely practiced by all Protestant groups at the time, would sometimes include putting meat in the soup on a Friday when Catholics could not eat meat. It is known now as ‘Souperism’. People who converted were referred to as ‘those who took the soup’ and they were regarded as having ‘sold their souls’.

We’re not at that level but there are parallels. If you take the soup, you won’t be ‘starved out of society’, and they’ll throw in a bit of meat to get more converts. That’s on top of the constant browbeating.

The latest gem from a certain self-righteous columnist in one of the biggest Greek Cypriot papers tells the unvaccinated that is their duty to ensure his ‘peace of mind’. Huh? What about their peace of mind? No, his peace of mind is clearly more important and we all have a duty to make sure we don’t disturb it.

This is typical of the stock response, also touted a lot by our Covid guru Leondios Kostrikis: ‘Your rights end where mine begin”. Notice how the phrase always starts with ‘their rights’ as if somehow they assume they have more rights than the next law-abiding person.

It’s the same when they use the one: ‘Your rights end where my nose begins so you’re not allowed to swing out your arm willy nilly. That’s fair. But if I’m standing in my own space exercising my right to swing my arm when there is no one around and you walk up to me with the intent of invading my space and get hit on the nose by accident, who’s to blame? The snowflake will of course argue that I have no right to swing my arms at all, ever, and just to make sure it never happens again, they’ll demand they be amputated.

That’s how the world works now.
SK Nicosia


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