As the COVID-19 spike soars way over our heads, the government has been doing its contortion act of trying to do something about it without hurting anyone’s feelings.
It is an impossible balancing act to carry off; there is no pleasing everybody when tackling the deadly virus.
Every time we think we have a handle on coronavirus, it goes into shapeshifter mode and delivers a more potent variant that is much harder to pin down.
The last thing the government wants to do is close the economy and shut everyone indoors, but with freedom comes responsibility.
When the pandemic first reached our shores in March 2020, there were no available weapons to fight the disease apart from hiding away.
Despite what the conspiracy theorists say, vaccines are our best weapon to fight a virus with no known cure.
Of course, some believe coronavirus is a hoax invented by big pharma and multinational corporations to control us.
Governments already control us; they don’t need to fabricate an imaginary virus to do that.
Most people will believe what they want to believe regardless of scientific proof.
Convenience store fake news is the enemy within that seeks to divide us but what it won’t do is end this pandemic.
We have to get used to living with coronavirus, although that’s easier said than done as we are hard-wired to socialise and congregate.
As we climb lower down the age ladder, the party instinct grows stronger, as does the tendency not to conform to the regulations.
Younger, unvaccinated people drive the fourth wave of COVID-19, spreading rapidly with the delta variant as the lighter fuel.
Although the death rate is relatively low, Cyprus is witnessing unprecedented COVID infections reaching four digits for the first time since the pandemic started.
It is spread by younger unvaccinated people who have a higher level of social contact.
Without curfews, lockdown, or other interventions, it is near impossible to control social behaviour, especially during the free-for-all summer months.
To build effective herd immunity against new variants, Cyprus is in a race against time to vaccinate around 80% of the population.
Anything less and the solid shield of protection turns into mushy peas.
For the numbers to add up, the vaccination rate among those aged under 40 needs to be ramped up.
If science can’t persuade them to do the right thing, then bribery and social arm twisting might do the trick.
Nasty or nice?
In short, the government is trying to bribe the younger generation to get jabbed by offering them goodies such as holiday coupons and tech gadgets.
Showing its nastier side, the government is to scrap free rapid testing next month to make it more costly for unvaccinated people to work, rest and play.
While the squeeze is put on the unvaccinated, the rest of us have to use a quasi-passport to conduct our daily business.
Having to show a pass to get a coffee or do the shopping feels rather uncomfortable.
It feels like the country has been invaded for a second time, suddenly becoming a different place where a passport is needed to access your daily life.
President Anastasiades said extending the Safe Pass was the alternative to making COVID jabs mandatory.
He said the government didn’t want to divide a divided country between the jabbed and the unjabbed.
But we are now living in a situation where refusing to get vaccinated is deemed morally and socially unacceptable.
That’s what happens when you give people a choice; they don’t do what’s expected of them.
Many would argue that allowing freedom of choice in a public health emergency is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with people’s lives.
Paying people cash to get jabbed may be a far better option than a blanket safe pass regime where rules are easily broken.
Cyprus has Europe’s worst accumulated rate of infections per inhabitant, not the greatest advert for a ‘safe’ tourist destination.
So, something needs to be done quickly to get a grip on the spiralling situation.
The government does not want any more lockdowns, and it shudders at having to obligate people to get vaccinated by law.
It needs to increase the inoculation rate to save lives and the health system.
Scientists have told the government that the unvaccinated are walking time bombs, incubators of the next deadly variant unleashed on the world.
Ironically, there are people in poorer countries desperate to get the COVID jab, while in our backyard, we need ‘gifts’ and ‘punishment’ to convince Cypriots it’s the right thing.