Two groups, the Union of United Parents and the teachers branch of the Cyprus Equality Union, said on Monday they would stage a protest outside the presidential palace on Wednesday against mask mandates and Covid testing at schools, which the cabinet will be discussing as part of a new roadmap for autumn and winter.

In a letter to the minister of health and the scientific team, the two groups pointed out that the world was “no longer in unchartered waters” when it came to dealing with the pandemic and that the public “cannot continue to show blind trust in the government’s handling of opaque procedures and unfounded measures”.

“The measures that experts have been recommending for 2.5 years such as masks, tests, quarantine, vaccines and social distancing have proven to be ineffective, with the experts themselves, among others, admitting this,” the letter said.

“How much longer will our children continue to suffer with mandatory invasive tests, quarantines and wearing masks in schools? Why should double standards apply when it comes to the rules for society and the rules for schools? With what scientific data and what studies does the ministry of health and its group of consultants continue to prepare a series of measures for the opening of schools?” it added.

The two groups said that based on their own survey, it was clear from the 642 parents interviewed, 93 per cent did not agree at all with the recent announcement by the health minister regarding the possible new measures in schools for the coming school year regarding masks, testing and social distancing.

“Specifically, 95 per cent believe that the mask measure is not at all necessary for children and 81 per cent said it is not at all necessary for adults,” the letter said.

When asked if there is confidence in the decisions of the government’s health experts today, 92 per cent of respondents answered ‘not at all’, it added.

“We believe it is time for our lives to be fully normalised and to continue living without fear, especially our children who have suffered the most damage in recent years. We also believe that there needs to be a guideline for a recommendation, not a requirement, for the use of a protective mask in closed spaces and the carrying out of tests as is done only on symptomatic people,” it said.

They groups’ letter said however that since decisions continue to be made without any input from parents or teachers, they planned to show their opposition to the proposed measures by demonstrating outside the palace on Wednesday.

As a forewarning, the health minister Michalis Hadjipantela said last Friday that students and educators would be required to present a negative 48-hour rapid test for coronavirus upon return to school as part of the new draft roadmap to manage the pandemic.

Depending on the results of that test, health authorities will decide future measures in schools. It is yet to be determined how this decision will be implemented.

Meanwhile, the use of face masks in indoor spaces remains a requirement for adults and children aged 12 and older. This includes schools, Hadjipantela said, explaining that scientists support the masks and at the present time this mandate cannot be removed.