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COVID pass to get coffee is the new normal

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6 mins read

After a third lockdown, the government is busy removing barriers to open up the economy and allow people a sense of freedom as movement by text is to be abolished for now.

With Cyprus ready to open its doors to tourists after a harrowing 14 months, it must set the stage for a semblance of normalcy to be visible.

Obviously, a curfew (starting a little later) doesn’t look good in a free society, but at least we will be able to leave the house without the OK from Big Brother.

For the government to start allowing the economy to breathe, it has introduced the so-called Coronapass for Cypriots to go about their business as if living in a different country.

Although Cypriots are used to possessing ID cards, having to carry around a valid COVID-19 test, vaccination certificate, or proof that you have contracted the virus seems a little intrusive.

It is also unclear how this ‘safe pass’ (as the government has renamed it to make it sound like a trip to the circus) will be enforced.

As the government has a low-tech approach to such issues, you can’t just download an app with the digital proof required to go to church, shop, sit in a café, or work out at the gym.

It has been stressed that only a police officer or a state official can request to see your personal COVID data.

So, does this mean there will be police raids at shopping malls and restaurants trying to catch the violators?

Some have questioned the legality of people being stopped and searched to divulge their COVID situation.

Others will argue it is a small price to pay to get our freedom back while it also encourages people to get vaccinated as it is the only way out of the pandemic.

Anti-vaxxers are not persuaded by science, so maybe the inconvenience of being banned from having a coffee with mates could encourage them to get jabbed.

It all sounds good; if only booking a vaccine shot on the online portal was as easy as ordering food delivery.

Digital trauma

The vaccination portal crashed again this week, out of service for 24 hours which meant those aged 33-34 missed their designated turn.

It is easy to blame the government for poor IT skills, but more worryingly, there has been a lack of transparency about why the system keeps crashing.

Did the government pay too much for dodgy software that wasn’t up to the task?

Or is there something strangely weird about Cypriot DNA that makes them destroy digital platforms?

When the portal first started crashing, people were blamed for abusing the system and the sheer numbers stampeding for a vaccine.

But shouldn’t the system be designed to withstand such a heavy payload unless there is a design fault?

Nobody knows because the ministry involved is not forthcoming, while the rest of the government would rather hide its embarrassment.

Surely, the public has a right to know if they are getting value for money, or did the portal fall off the back of a lorry, no questions asked.

The government likes to declare what a wonderful job it’s doing in rolling out the vaccines on the exit road to herd immunity.

Ramping up vaccinations puts staff under pressure at crowded centres struggling to cope in a race against time.

It is easy to take pot-shots at the government, especially during an election campaign where voters are encouraged to vent their frustration.

Judging by the calibre of the Opposition, there are no guarantees they would do a better job during an unprecedented health crisis.

As with politics in this country, there is a lack of clarity, accountability, and honesty. The public is treated on a need-to-know basis (there is no need to know).

That is the only sure thing you can set your watch by.

How the pandemic unfolds remain a mystery; for now, we can see a chink of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, but everything feels far from normal.

I’m not quite sure what getting back to normal means.

There will always be an air of trepidation in our social activities or work environment as we learn to live with COVID-19.

We all want to feel free to make our choices where we go and what we do, but the virus hasn’t left the building.

With social distancing, mask-wearing, booster jabs, scary new variants, it doesn’t feel like we are winning.