The public protests by scores of parents against mandatory mask wearing by students aged six and over and rapid tests at all schools are, to say the least, way over the top. On Monday they blocked the road leading to Limassol port for an hour, the police having to remove them because they were disrupting the flow of traffic. The protests continued in Limassol on Tuesday.
They can carry out as many protests as they like outside government offices and march anywhere they want but inconveniencing workers and other members of the public because they do not want their children to wear a face mask in school is totally out of proportion. They have also been very critical of the confederation of parents’ associations for failing to oppose the government decision, not realising the significance of this.
The fact is that the protesting parents are a miniscule minority that cannot impose their views on everyone else. The overwhelming majority of parents have no objection to the mandatory mask wearing at primary schools, either because they accept this could restrict the spread of the virus or because they see no harm in it. Wearing a face mask will not cause any harm to a young child. It is a protective measure put into practice in many countries as it is considered harmless to children.
Whether it works is another matter, but that is not the issue. The government has taken a decision, which is not unreasonable under the circumstances, and parents need to respect it. The case for masks was strengthened on Tuesday when the health ministry reported that in the last four weeks the age group with the highest number of Covid cases was six to 11-year-olds. Cases almost tripled in this age group, jumping from 123 in the first week of the period under review to 305 in the third.
It will be interesting to see if mask wearing, which began on Monday, leads to a fall in cases at primary schools. If it does not, however, the government may start campaigning for the vaccination of children in this age group. Delivery of the vaccines for children is expected later this month and it is entirely possible the government will embark on a campaign for jabbing children over six. It would not make it mandatory, but it will apply pressure on parents.
In such case, parents would have every right to protest and ignore the government advice. They should not however waste their energy on something minor and harmless like the mandatory mask wearing.