Last week, the Cyprus government introduced additional measures to combat the pandemic. These measures created a twin-speed lockdown, depending on district.
To give context, the Republic of Cyprus is roughly 9,251 square kilometres, of which, half is the sparsely-populated Troodos mountains. The population is, give or take, 1.2 million souls. More people live in the city of Milan, or in the Bronx, than live in the Republic of Cyprus. In global terms, crafting bespoke lockdowns per district is extremely granular.
The districts of Paphos and Limassol have been shut down. Nobody in, and nobody out. Despite being neighbours, no travel between them either. Compliance is assured by roadblocks, manned by the National Guard.
I live at the foot of the mountains, in a village of Limassol District. I can drive to Limassol town centre in half an hour or so, and to Paphos in forty-five minutes, except of course, at the moment, I’m not allowed. Many of my friends are in Paphos district. Much of the work that I have been doing, is in Paphos District. Most grating of all, my golf club is in Paphos district.
Don’t get me wrong. If it helps halt the spread of the virus, I’m all for it. The government is doing the best it can. However, dividing by district is, surprise, surprise, having a divisive effect. Paphites furiously point to statistics that indicate infections are higher in Nicosia (home of the government). The absolute numbers are so low, that one infection chain could, in a matter of days, take one district past another. Certainly, putting troops onto the streets seems melodramatic. If the intention is to focus the mind, then it’s working.
The English-language newspaper, the Cyprus Mail, made a valid point:
“It is not even as if the restriction on movements are guaranteed to make a difference. All this time during which there were no restrictions in movement between districts, the Nicosia district was still recording a much lower number of infections per 100,000 than Limassol and Paphos, so it is far from certain the roadblocks will make much difference.”
Then, in the satirical Sunday column, “Tales from the Coffee shop”
“The lockdown will last until the end of the month, even though there would not be too many people protesting if Paphos was kept in lockdown and Paphites were banned from leaving their district for a year or two. If only there was a decree forcing Paphite politicians back to their birthplace as well.”
Ah well. Laughter is the best medicine, I suppose.