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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Deciphering the latest Covid coercion tactics

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THERE was some good news this week, among the long list of mind-numbing rules about what combination of vaccinations and PCR or rapid tests would allow you to go to the movies or a wedding reception.

The locking up of people with the Omicron variant in a state quarantine facility for two weeks, was abandoned pretty quickly, but in rather mysterious circumstances.

After Monday’s council of ministers’ meeting, the unsmiling health minister Michalis Hadjipantelas, who loves the power trip of announcing repressive measures, said that people found to have contracted the Omicron variant “or any other possible future mutation are obliged to isolate in places that would be designated by the ministry of health.”

A few hours later, in the press release with ‘Clarification on the decisions of the council of ministers’ issued by the health ministry, the mandatory quarantine was unceremoniously dropped. People with the Omicron variant “are obliged to stay in self-isolation in their place of residence,” it said, negating the unsmiling minister’s earlier diktat.

This was no ‘clarification’. It was either a ‘correction of the minister who misunderstood the decision of the council of ministers,’ or a ‘change of the decision by council of ministers made two hours ago.’ Either would have been a more accurate title for the press release because the complete change of a decision does not qualify as a ‘clarification.’

 

LIKE any minister of a police state, Hadjipantelas could not admit that a mistake had been made. The minister’s communications advisor, when asked by Politis which one of the two announcements was valid, he said both. In short Omicron positives would be obliged to self-isolate at home and at the same time in a place designated by the health ministry.

The advisor’s explanation was Omicron positives would isolate at home, “but if it is deemed necessary by any new mutation, it is possible the first cases would have to isolate compulsorily in places designated by the health ministry as had happened with Omicron.” Although Hadjipantelas spoke about future mutations in general he had spoken specifically about Omicron on Monday.

What Politis failed to ask the communications advisor was whether the five Omicron cases locked up in the Tersefanou covid colony last weekend were placed there unlawfully? The decree for locking people up that was revoked a couple of hours after it was announced by the minister would have been valid from December 15 but people were locked up on December 10.

By what law or decree were the Omicrons placed in compulsory state quarantine? It is the decree, which says the government does whatever it wants to citizens to protect public health and it will be announced by Hadjipantelas next week, with clarifications to follow.

 

IF YOU have a family with underaged children from last Wednesday you would require to carry a government decree manual before going to the cinema or an eatery.

For instance, according to a reminder issued by the health ministry, from last Wednesday, only people aged 12 and over that have had one dose of the vaccine and possess a negative PCR or rapid test would be allowed to go to nightclubs, cinemas, discotheques and eateries (including eateries in malls and hotels).

Does this mean a 13-year-old can go to nightclubs and discotheques? Yes, and according to the rules, children aged between 6 and 11 can go to nightclubs and discotheques with just a safe pass (negative rapid or PCR test in the last seven days). Children up to six meanwhile can go to nightclubs and discotheques without any conditions. The decree did not say if they can drink alcohol as well.

The funny thing is that in all these establishments that punters over 12 would need at least one vaccination plus a negative test to enter, employees only require a negative rapid or PCR test to enter.

The government has shown its human face in this respect applying limits to its coercion tactics. It will deprive people of the right to go to a bar or restaurant if they are not vaccinated, but it will not stop unvaccinated people earning a living, even if it compromises our safety.

 

CHURCHES, meanwhile are exempt from all Covid rules. No safe pass or Covid pass is required to enter a church, the unvaccinated given the freedom to pass on the virus to the old and frail that make up the majority of the churchgoers.

Why are churches being treated as Covid-free zones by our caring state that is so determined to protect public health? Is it because Prez Nik feels it is easier to deal with a few more positive cases than have to deal with the bishops on his cases, moaning that he is depriving the faithful of the right to exercise their religious rights?

If there was a true desire to protect public health, churchgoers, should be treated as the unvaccinated and be barred from going to restaurants, bars, discotheques, cinemas, nightclubs etc, because they have been in a place in which the unvaccinated circulate freely.

 

FOLLOWING on from the report of a few weeks ago, that head of the Cyprus Centre of European and International Affairs, Dr Andreas Theophanous, was being urged by people to stand as a presidential candidate, Politis carried a full-page interview with man asking him if he was interested in standing.

“I would be interested under certain conditions,” he said but admitted he came under no pressure from any political party to stand. An independent candidate could be successful he felt as long as he can be all things to all people, which has always been Dr Theophanous’ style.

Of course, he put this point more elegantly than I have. “An independent candidate that has the support of one or more parties can win the elections only if he can address broader strata, from the Right to the Left and the society of citizens.” From what I know this can be achieved by telling people what they want hear, something which Dr Theophanous excels at.

 

ON THURSDAY we had another independent candidate joining the fray. Former deputy president of Diko and lawyer Giorgos Colocassides announced his decision to stand with a plan of cleaning up the corruption and pursuing a new strategy on the Cyprob, by changing the basis of the talks and moving them away from federation.

Colocassides, a scion of the Makarios establishment, in his presentation gave a long list of scandals including the closure of Cyprus Airways and the Co-op Bank. Was he serious that the closure of Cyprus Airways was a scandal? The real scandal was that the loss-making airline, which was being plundered by its money-grabbing staff, was not closed down much sooner, and saved the taxpayer many tens of millions of euros that was spent keeping it afloat.

As for the scandal of closure of the Co-op bank, if it had been done sooner, the public debt would have been lower by €2 billion. If he is elected, he can set up a new national carrier and call it Kyproulla Airways.

 

SPEAKING of the Co-op Bank the attorney-general’s office recorded another humiliating defeat in the courts to add to its long list of failed prosecutions in relation to the collapse of the banking sector. On Thursday the criminal court acquitted 10 defendants of all charges brought against them in connection with loans granted by the Strovolos Co-op.

Although the failures were recorded by the previous attorney-general, Costas Clerides, his successor, Giorgos Savvides continued this fine tradition, maintaining his predecessor’s 100% record in unsuccessful prosecutions for the collapse of the banking sector. In the end not a single bank executive, director or hanger-on has been put behind bars for the gross mismanagement of the banks that led to the collapse.

It was foreign forces that must have been to blame for what happened.

 

OUR ESTABLISHMENT, like the health ministry, would like to issue a clarification about on what it had written last week about the four daughters of the foreign minister attending one of the most expensive private schools in Kyproulla at the taxpayer’s expense.

We were informed subsequently that this was not entirely correct. The foreign ministry only pays 90% of the school fees of the children of diplomats, and the parents cover the remaining 10%. So, it could be said the taxpayer gets a 10% discount, which we failed to mention thus giving the wrong impression. We hope this clarification, which is not issued under duress, puts the record straight.

 

A QUESTION for the government. Did the King of Jordan Abdullah II, who arrived on a visit on Friday night have to undergo PCR test before leaving the airport and heading to the presidential palace? Just asking.

 

I KNOW it is politically incorrect nowadays to wish people a Merry Christmas in case they are not Christian and take offence, but I cannot bring myself to wish people the insipid ‘Happy Holidays’.  Our establishment therefore wishes you a Merry Christmas and advises you to wear a double face mask and keep your distances in church because the unvaccinated will be there.

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