Coronavirus measures seem to be slowly creeping back in. Although it was something to be expected by the autumn, it seems like no time at all has passed since the mask mandate was dropped for most spaces.
As usual we’re being told that epidemiological indicators require its reintroduction but no explanation was given after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday as to why pharmacies were a special case for the return of mask-wearing.
It’s very rare to see people crammed like sardines into a pharmacy. It can only be assumed that it’s because they carry out rapid tests like labs, and government testing points, which are also reintroducing masks.
Perhaps the ministry has some indication that they’ve not publicised that show these points of contact have become super-spreader events due to the fact that mostly it is only people with symptoms that now get tested.
Supermarkets, bakeries, kiosks and other venues have been spared for the moment but for how long if the indicators continue to climb?
So far, people are being merely advised to take their own protective measures and there is no doubt that many are not and have thrown caution to the wind.
While the move towards the reintroduction of measures is understandable from the point of view of the ministry and the cabinet, the decision on the price cap for self-tests is not.
On Saturday, the ministry made a great fanfare about how it was taking steps to set a price ceiling on single self-tests amid reports of profiteering.
A box with five Covid self-tests had already been capped at €6. However, some sellers, in the spirit of Cypriot entrepreneurship, found a way around this, claiming the boxes were out of stock and priced individual self-tests at about €2 apiece.
Clarifying that there is no supply issue, the health ministry said the phenomenon had been going on for days and it was going to put a stop to it.
The solution? The cabinet has maintained the price cap for a box of five self-tests at €6 and a cap on each individual one at €1.70 per piece. That’s not much of a difference for the consumers who were being ripped off for €2 a pop, or is the health ministry unable to do the math? Six euros divided by five tests is €1.20 apiece.
Since there is no shortage of tests, or so we’ve been told, we can only assume that the ministry is now giving profiteering its seal of approval. Few sellers of self-tests are going to offer a box for €6 when they can reap €8.50 a box by selling them individually.
We wonder whose vested interests had a hand in this. Are the pharmacies and labs feeling the financial pain since ten per cent of the population stopped testing every day?