Leader of the Church of Cyprus, a vulnerable citizen, has taken up a new crusade – to enforce coronavirus vaccinations on his staff and chastise priests who refused to wear masks and preach against the jabs.
Although Archbishop Chrysostomos II talked about a handful of staff, saying they would be sacked if they would not inoculate, he is the first leader to take a tough stand against anti-vaxxers, something politicians have been reluctant to do.
He warned they had until the end of the August holiday break to get the jab or not show up for work at all.
The reason was simple – the Archbishop said that being ill after contracting the coronavirus would prove lethal for him, having recently overcome serious health issues.
“I respect them; why shouldn’t they respect me?” he added.
Among the ardent anti-vaxxers is the Bishop of Morphou (also an opponent of other human rights), and a scientific advisor to the Holy Synod, allegedly involved in demonstrations and the arson attacks on Sigma TV last Sunday.
Some 70% of the adult population have received one vaccine jab, and about 62% have completed their vaccination, which is clearly not enough.
However, the situation is worse among younger people responsible for transmitting the virus rapidly due to complacency and indifference.
Just over a third or 36% of 18- to 19-year-olds, and 46% of those 20 to 29 have only received one shot, prompting the state to introduce walk-in vaccination centres and incentivise younger people to get inoculated.
As the rollout was extended to teenagers, a mere 22% of 16–17-year-olds have received a COVID-19 jab.
These low numbers are the main cause of the authorities’ inability to control the spread, keeping Cyprus in danger zones regarding high-risk travel destinations.
If the virus does not destroy the Cyprus tourism market, then the irresponsible youths and those who egg them on will annihilate any chances of recovery as a safe holiday destination.
Already, Israelis have been banned from visiting Cyprus as of July 30, one of their favourite holiday destinations, under new coronavirus rules introduced by Tel-Aviv.
Cyprus is suffering a fourth wave of coronavirus with record infection rates in four digits.
Israel is the island’s third-largest tourist market with a 7.4% share of the near four million arrivals pre-COVID-19.
With the other primary markets of Britain and Russia also hard-hit by the pandemic, Cyprus tourism cannot survive on holidaymakers from central and northern Europe alone.
Perhaps, it’s time to ignore the politicians and follow the Archbishop’s harsher words and actions.
Or else, we will be toing and froing in and out of new waves of the pandemic.