The measures announced by the health minister on Tuesday, hopefully, will see us through the holidays and into the new year, without the need for additional restrictions. While more restrictions cannot be ruled out, bearing in mind how quickly the government has taken decisions during the pandemic, the Christmas weekend at least is safe. Anything predicted for New Year’s Eve would be speculation as nobody knows what the cases ‘data’ will be next week and what the scientific team will advise.
We have, for now, escaped the drastic measures we are witnessing in many other EU member states which have imposed lockdowns and curfews among other things to deal with the winter’s surge in cases. Perhaps the government fears there would be a big reaction by businesses that would be affected economically by more drastic restrictions, especially as it may have run out of funds to support them. Whatever the reason, we should count ourselves lucky that we can go wherever we want over the holidays so long as we are vaccinated.
On the matter of vaccinations, the government has resorted to blatant coercion, by barring the unvaccinated from all venues, even if they produce a negative rapid or PCR test. This is not a measure aimed at controlling the spread of the virus but one designed to force as many people as possible to get the jab. From what is being reported by the vaccination centres, and data released by the health minister on Tuesday, this coercive measure appears to be working, with people opting not to spend the Christmas holidays locked up at home.
Relatively speaking, though, we are still better off than people in Austria where those who refuse to be vaccinated will be criminalised; in Greece everyone over 60 that is unvaccinated is fined €100 a month, while in Italy the unvaccinated are not permitted to work. In Cyprus, by comparison, the unvaccinated are still permitted to work – as long as they have a negative test every two or three days – ironically, in places unvaccinated punters cannot go to, such as bars, restaurants, cafes. The unvaccinated can still go to the shops if they have proof of a negative test and to church, without anything, which totally undermines the messaging of the government.
The vaccination messaging is also undermined by the decision to make a weekly test mandatory for jabbed people to go to work. For the unvaccinated it’s every 48 hours while those who got the booster are exempt. This is an indirect admission that the double-dose vaccination is nowhere near as effective as had originally been claimed. On the plus side, unvaccinated people are still allowed to go to work.
There are inconsistencies in the Covid-19 policies, but we should still be thankful that the government has avoided the level of repression imposed in other EU countries. And we should be happy that we can still have gatherings of 20 people in our homes over Christmas.