Containment Across the World: Reader Reports. Part II
From the Philippines to Cyprus, more reader reports on their own local piece of this global insanity.
Continued from here.
In this second part, I’ve tried to include longer, detailed reports, primarily about regions we hardly heard about last time, or about places we did hear about, but from a different perspective.
As always, you’re invited to send me your own reports about local conditions; the dedicated email address for this is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am especially interested in hearing from you if you’re in a location I haven’t featured yet.
Isaac Clarke comments:
Draconian restrictions on paper, but very lax enforcement. One of the few benefits of living in the third world. We're currently getting ~400 cases a day in a nation of 100+ million, yet indoor and outdoor mask mandates remain. Mandatory face shields were only recently lifted. QR code scans mandatory when entering businesses, vaccine cards required for businesses like gyms and hair salons. Duterte keeps floating mandatory vaccination but our Justice Department warn him repeatedly that it's probably illegal and will be challenged in court. If you test positive, you're dragged to a COVID internment camp for two weeks if you "can't quarantine at home safely" (in practice this means poor people in slums). Close contacts of people who test positive are required to get PCR tests and still need to stay at home for at least a week even if they test negative.
But a lot of the restrictions are just on paper. In practice, people have stopped giving a shit. I rip my mask off as soon as I get to work and keep it off most of the day, no one cares. I don't bother wearing my mask at the gym, no one cares. The gym staff checked for a vaccine card once and never did so again. I see unmasked people hanging out outside, and cops don't scold or fine them for it because they, themselves, don't wear their masks. It's all theater now.
NOTHING is as it was 2 years ago. I teach, soon changed to taught, English at Universities, nursing schools, medically related vocational schools and various private entities. I have a child who is in the 2nd grade. The following is lengthy as it details close to 2 years of utter madness and contains the lengthy covid mitigation measures all employees and students of a medical school are to take.
Students of secondary schools have spent the entirety of the last 2 school years or a significant portion of them all online. Primary students are in the classroom or hybrid education, some in class instruction some online instruction. All my classes are currently various versions of all online though one has returned to the classroom but I continue to teach it remotely. More on that later. All Extracurricular activities for the multiple schools I have a relationship with have been cancelled for the entirety of these 2 school years.
Below was written in April of 2020. It details some of the activities my oldest child had to miss out on due to Covid restrictions.
“Yesterday was my son’s last day at his daycare where he has been going everyday for 6 years. He is 6 1/2 years old. This was to be a fun few months for him. The whole time he attended he and his classmates have had their anticipation for the end of their last year built up. The kindergarten students and the second oldest class go on a field trip together each Spring. Last year he was in the younger class and it is his best memory of his 6 years there. Being a member of the younger class, there were many rides he could not go on that he could have this year. He was so looking forward to going on those and being the big kid looking after the younger kids as they had been prepared for. Cancelled.
Among the cancellations was his last school play. Because it was cancelled they filmed the dress rehearsal for the families. The kids demeanor was easily understandable from the video and photos. A more disappointed group of kids can not be imagined.
The one thing that was not cancelled in March was his graduation yet it too was curtailed to a great degree. Each year the second oldest class attends and representatives from this class and the younger classes present gifts they made for the graduating students. The gifts were presented but by the teachers as the non-graduating students were barred from attending. Only two guests per student were allowed. His grandparents, whose help was so important during his time there, picking him up, feeding him dinner and taking him to school in the morning when his parent’s work prevent us from doing so, were not allowed to attend. All adults in attendance were required to wear masks through out the event adding even more darkness to what should have been a happy occasion. The party with the teachers after graduation was cancelled as was the class graduation party. The same restrictions are in effect for his entrance ceremony next week unless it too is cancelled.”
The entrance ceremony for elementary school was indeed cancelled. Each of the 2 years preceeding the panic, he went to a youth summer camp and was really looking forward to doing so last year. Cancelled. As was this year’s. So too were our family’s reservations for camp sites for Golden Week 2020. Campsite cancellations were universal, or near enough so for most of the 2020 camping season but hit and miss towards the end and for all of this year. Organized hikes also cancelled. May 2020 they even went so far as to cut all the flowers off the tulip plants in a famous park so as to have nothing to attract visitors. Graduations, weddings, funerals, concerts, festivals, fireworks and others cancelled for most off 2020 and greatly scaled back for those that could be held in 2021. None of the groups I am associated with have had a hanami nor BBQ these past two years.
Many Bonenekai, year’s end parties were cancelled. My local festival group had to cancel theirs for 2020. We did have a New Year party early Jan. 2021 then we were hit with another Emergency Declaration right afterwards that shut down most of the eateries and bars. Signs posted on their store fronts stated they would be opened on the date the declaration was to be lifted, then crossed out and the new date written when the declaration was extended. Almost comical how many dates ended up being crossed out. One local bar finally posted a sign saying that he would remain closed until he was allowed to stay open until at least 10pm. He reopened a month ago after 11 months following many months closed last year.
An anomyous email report:
The situation here is a bit crazy, not in the terms of infections or deaths but in the terms of the bureaucracy. Infections/deaths wise we are in all time low.
A vaccination passport is going to be enforced the next 21st of December in the Buenos Aires province, the biggest state in terms of population. Without a passport you are not going to be able to assist:
* Massive cultural or sport events
* Restaurants and bars
* State offices in order to do paperwork (you're right saying that the covid really affects bureaucrats).
It will be asked to anybody above 13 yo.
But first let me show you the number of ppl vaccinated: 82% of ppl over 18yo with double vaccination. 94% with one jab.
I don't know who the politicians are trying to enforce with this green pass, but there almost none anti-vaxx ppl in the country. The enforcement makes no sense and will not convince anybody, because there is nobody to convince (everybody has the vaccine).
What do I think is going to happen? It is going to be asked the first weeks in the most bureaucratic places and then the enforcement will loose power like everything in Argentina. For example, when nightclubs opened again in August/September it was mandatory to show your vaccination card. It never happened. I was never asked to show my status.
Schools: all kids are obliged to wear a facemask at classes.
Universities: grad school is virtual. It has been virtual since March 2020. Some post grad are having face to face classes [I think it is not the best word]
Churches: facemask required. I listen to mass from the outside so I don't have to comply with that.
Public transit: facemask required.
Lots of ppl using facemask at the street. Also lots of ppl going for a stroll with facemask.
Last weekend I went to Uruguay for my work's end of the year party. We had 10 hours of unrestricted party (without any requirement, like it was 2019. DJ, music, alcohol, etc. The only precaution was that is was done in the open air.). But in order to have a 10 hour party, the Uruguayan ppl had to tell the county officials that they we're going to have to different parties of 6 hours each with two sets of different persons. All bullshit so we can have a proper gathering with my coworkers, because we all know that if a meeting is of less than 6 hours we are all safe. Stupidity in the both shores of the Río de la Plata.
Also I have a crazy theory of why we have none heart problems like the Europeans. Most of the vaccines over here are Sputnik, Sinopharm or AstraZeneca, that aren't mRNA. They are not the most effective compared to the Pfizer or Moderna ones, but the side effects are less. Any thoughts about this?
Like any other place, the media loves talking about the coronavirus and to create hysteria about it. There are many para official media conglomerates that replicates the official discourse. Also most of the infectologists talk in the name of ScIenCe and say nonesense in order to go with the government line of thought.
Hope this sets a good panorama of how things are going in Argentina. Let me know if you want to know anything else or need a clarification. Feel free to do a light edit, you are better writer than me.
TJP reports via email:
Even though Covid management is a devolved competence for the Scottish government, up until two weeks ago we benefitted enormously from Boris Johnson's decision to stick to his freedom day plan. The devolved administrations (Wales too) throughout the pandemic have felt the need to show that they are more "caring" than Johnson which means more restrictions. Still, they cannot impose many more restrictions or people would start to wonder. So it means that if England had 0 restrictions, Scotland would do masks and some limited vax passes, now that England has reintroduced some restrictions it feels inevitable that our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (basically a badly aged wannabe Jacinda Ardern) will reintroduce social distancing or ramp up vax passes. If Johnson reintroduces social distancing then we'll have something like hospitality closures, etc.
The class divide in terms of attitudes to Covid is off the charts. In the more working class environments, most people go around as normal, although mass compliance is still rather high unfortunately (still it has slipped since the summer). Middle class "knowledge" professionals (journalists, academics, creatives) are as hysterical as they were back in March 2020. They will all religiously have their booster in the next few weeks and still cower at home. I work at a university and I see students going around practically as normal (the library tends to be packed, with no social distancing, although still quite a lot of masks), while many academics only venture into campus like once a month and teach everything from home. An inertia has established itself in online teaching, in that it is now acceptable to move teaching online for the slightest reason. This could include weather being somewhat bad (in Scotland lol), the city being crowded or the class happening too early (like at 9am). I fear this could become a permanent state of affairs (the lecturers' union is rather strong, and they are constantly advocating for online teaching), but then university managers are only very aware of money and they know this kind of thing is unlikely to attract international students (aka cash cows), so I'd like to think that at some point staff refusing to teach online will be given an ultimatum.
I had numerous emails about France, surprisingly. I may publish others soon, but for now I offer you this report from an anonymous reader:
** A quick timeline of 2021
We started with a curfew from 6 PM to 6 AM, it got pushed to 7 PM in April, and slowly phased out through May-July. Bars and restaurants and such were closed until mid-June. They started demanding pass for museums and galleries, large events and amusement parks at the end of July, and in restaurants, bars, public gatherings, trains and busses that travel from one large region to another (even if you don't), hospitals and nursing homes for visits, large supermarkets, and probably other places I don't even think about. Notably, religious services do not require a pass because France is a secular country: you can go to a mass at a church, but not to a concert.
Testing was free until October 15, now it's about 25 € for an antigenic test or 45 € for a PCR test, or free if you are vaccinated/recovered, someone declares you their contact, or if your antigen test is positive. Masks are mandated everywhere indoors, and there were progressively more streets where you needed to wear them outdoors, until they decided that they have to be worn everywhere in all large cities. Then some time in the early summer, they stopped demanding masks outdoors. Now they are starting to ask again.
I work at a large university in the east of France. Most people there have been vaccinated, and we receive two weekly doses of fear propaganda: a scripted letter from the President saying how everyone should vaxx, and an information pamphlet about the newest number of cases in students and staff, and infection clusters (usually of students). The President also sends an email to all whenever a (former) staff member dies - to my knowledge, nobody has yet died of the virus.
People around me use "we" as in "the vaccinated" and implicitly include me in that category. I've heard in my presence: "Here it is easy to be in contact in people, imagine if some of us were not vaccinated or about to be." I heard quite a few deprecatory remarks on the unvaccinated, all assuming that I agree because I also belong to the pure. This lets me get away with things.
The pass has to be checked at all events that have participants not employed or studying at the university. The checker is not specified, so I freely participated to several such events.
The mood is drastically in favour of gouvernment consensus. I think most don't really care, have never thought about the virus and march along to the rythm "if our colleagues scientists said it, it must be true." They would do the same for anything else, like ecology. Docility and servility abound. Still, I could have good conversations even with some of those who know that I'm not vaccinated, and the virus did not eat away at that.
There are some true believers. People who wear several masks and a visor and gloves, who get tested at the slightest symptom, and who know all the lore about the virus and the variants and how fast the vaccine effort is progressing. I've heard the cases/vaccine tracker website described as "the most depressing site on the internet." One colleague confronted me for not wearing a mask when entering a restaurant, and he doesn't want to talk to me anymore. When inviting people to a party celebrating one of his achievements, he stated that the pass is obligatory (I could not attend, so I don't know if he enforced).
From the university internet channels I learn that those who exchange emails there really believe in the propaganda. If you're wandering does anyone still believe that "vaccines don't cause variants" or "if we get 100% vaccination, the virus will be gone" or any crazy idea, especially the outdated ones from March 2020: yes, these people still believe them. All of them.
I've not been wearing a mask at university grounds since forever. Two people complained, each once (not including the colleague above, who complained at the restaurant). I ignored them. Sometimes people adjust their masks when passing by me - sometimes they seem afraid, other times like they are trying to say "wear it." I'm often coughing, and despite that, everybody is tongue-tied.
I've not been wearing a mask in the street or respecting the curfew. I was told two times by the police to "wear it" and "wear it correctly", and once recently "it's again obligatory to wear it in the street". I've been downtown at least once per week every week since the beginning of the year up to mid-September. Policemen and police cars have passed by me a lot more often than thrice. I had no problems for the curfew.
For the first obligatory-covering period, just about everyone were wearing them. Even when it stopped, it was still common to see people wearing a mask in the street. I passed by covered people at 11 PM. Recently I've been seeing more and more people wearing masks in the street, but it's still not everyone like last winter/spring.
As for indoor masking, I've got a new policy of "if they don't ask, I don't wear." In most shops I'm asked at the checkout. In bakeries and similar small shops people usually don't care. I feel the judgemental stares on my face, and I dismiss them. Sometimes I see hope in people's eyes, even approval for something they don't dare to do. I live for those moments. I know a guy who has made similar observations.
The whitepill: getting away from the city, masks are almost unseen. Nobody really cares in the villages.
Another whitepill: if you keep pushing a bare face, they might crack. Especially if you're useful.
The pass is annoying, but not terrible. Nobody checks your ID along with the pass, so people get theirs from someone they know who got vaccinated. Some bars don't check at all. Sometimes it is possible to get away without it - I was at a restaurant where others were asked for the pass, but I wasn't (I don't know anyone at that restaurant).
Most people got vaxxed for the pass. Many cases of planned vacations that were never realised, and even more of people wanting to participate in normal activities such as sports, cinema and theater. I think many are disappointed that this continues and do not wish to go for another shot, but they will probably do it when the gouvernment drops the hammer. I don't know what happens in case of more restrictions, or if a vaxx mandate happens. The French are warm-blodded, maybe too much for this.
- Seems to be better than Germany/France/Netherlands at the moment, afraid not for long.
- Vaxx passes (CovidPass for Belgium) is required in any cultural and dining establishments (not outside though), sports facilities (gym, swimming, anything you can think of) as well as larger outside gatherings (forgot a number, but like 1000 people or so). Anyway, I haven't been visiting any of those for a while now.
- you can still test for vaxx pass (both PCR and antigen are ok, but for valid for different time, both payed by you of course (~60 and ~25 E respectively))
- Things are getting worse, on 22 December, bunch of un-elected people will discuss mandatory vaccination and other way of making our life better
- Standard cry about falling hospitals and so on. Funny it falls the fastest in Flanders (probably one of the most vaccinated places in the world, at least for adults) and they even acknowledge that, just say - oh, we don't know why, probably you don't wear mask tight enough (https://www.demorgen.be/nieuws/vierde-golf-wordt-stilaan-vlaamse-golf-walen-en-brusselaars-bleven-wellicht-voorzichtiger~b98a316a/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fckac.livejournal.com%2F)
- Compliance: I'm not originally from Belgium, so my integration in society is not that deep to assess some hidden currents. General attitude is standard, west european as described by other commentators. In the same time it's visible that people are getting tired of ongoing stuff and much less scared than before. I'd say there is a serious split happening, around 10-15% will still wear mask when outside (like in the park), but now around 10-20% will open their noses in the shop and won't be bothered by staff. We had several large protests in Brussels against Vax passports and mandates (really large for our small country), but if history teaches us anything - they would mean nothing. Vaxx acceptance is quite high, as well as boosters (https://datastudio.google.com/embed/reporting/c14a5cfc-cab7-4812-848c-0369173148ab/page/p_j1f02pfnpc), but, of course boosters are a tiny bit less welcomed, especially given that vaxxed people didn't see much of their freedom coming back as promised. Kids from 5 years old will start getting jabbed in a few weeks. No possible exception from the vaccine, there are like 21 doctor in whole Belgium that can give official exception and it can be given only if you've been already damaged by vaccine, so no way to stay healthy and even then, they can decide, it's ok to give it to you, just not under some dirty bridge but in a hospital, that morgue is closer.
We have mask mandates in all of indoor public spaces. The compliance was rather low during the summer, but it ramped up since the cases started growing in November. From my experience, any time I'm travelling on the public transport or visiting the shopping mall, I have no problems with immediately spotting some unmasked or "pretending to be masked" people. Enforcement is low. I remember only a single case this autumn in which the shop assistant told the customer to put on the mask. Last year it was an almost everyday occurrence. We also don't have universal masking in schools. I haven't seen a masked waiter or a barista since October. My hairdresser leaves her customers full freedom to decide whether they want to be masked or not. In my own workplace (language school) we have to be masked all the time. Except the first question I keep getting during the in-person classes is "Can we take our masks off?" And I always say yes. One time the office worker came into the classroom while I was teaching. She didn't say anything about the fact that we were all unmasked. The topic was neve brought again. The police isn't controlling anything, unless they are being told to. This weekend there were big masking compliance controls in some shopping malls. All meaningless, all for publicity. The legislation that mandates universal masking is written so badly that almost all cases of fines that are brought to the court end in cancelling the fine. Which is probably why the law enforcement can't be bothered anymore.
Vaccinations: our vaccination rates are lower than in most Western European countries. A little bit more than half of eligible population (not counting the 5-11 year olds in which group the vaccination is just starting) is vaccinated. The rates are generally higher in big cities than in countryside. The least vaccinated regions in Poland are in the East and in the mountainious regions. Those regions are also the most rebellious towards any sorts of mandates.
The government has created their own conspiracy theory about organized groups of anti-vaxers which are being funded and directed from Russia. And it's because of their propaganda that people don't want to vaccinate. It's ridiculous, but some people believe it anyway.
There's a big conflict around the vaccine mandates right now. The government seems to be aware that they don't have a widespread acceptance of mandates, but on the other hand they still have to deal with the hysterical media, hysterical experts, and hysterical members of the opposition (and the more left-wing the party is, the more hysterical its members are). So they are making some attempts at appeasing them but without angering the madate-sceptical part of the society at the same time (especially that many of those are their own voters). So since this week they introudced a limitation on capacity in restaurants, cinemas and churches. Up to 30% capacity anyone can enter without being asked about the vaccination status. After passing the 30% capacity 3G rules start applying. Except that again, the legislation is so bad that the restaurant owner or a priest has no legal method of checking the green pass, since the vaccination status is (still) considered a private information here in Poland. Which means that any legally-savvy person can start a court case against a place that tried to check their status. Some of those cases have already been won. I can't say how exactly this rule is enforced because since its inception last week (back then it was up to 75% capacity) I see a marked decrease in the numbers of people at least in restaurants. The reason for that may be that many people (even the vaccinated ones) seem not be aware that after passing the capacity limit, the 3G rules start applying.
There are of course some places that are trying to get ahead of the game and demand vaccine passports, but the reception for those kinds of actions is usually mixed. People who are against mandates (both vaccinated and not) usually start boycotting campaigns after hearing such announcements so I'm not sure how profirtable it will turn to be for them.
Also many people are very vocal against boosters. Any announcements in the media about the necessity of getting booster, usually invite long streams of sarcastic comments. The same was true about the Omicron scare - some people got even more panicky, but many treated this thing like a joke. Of all things happening here, this mocking attitude is one of the things that really gives me hope that we can eventually turn this situation around. Also, it's very clear that many health experts are struggling with keeping their faces. You can see very clearly that some of them are starting to get confused around the chaos of shifting goalposts - and that the information they communicate is contradictory.
One very worrying trend is the wanton cruelty of some medical professionals that were turned into celebrities by this crisis. In general there is a growing lack of trust in the medical profession. Access to public healthcare was very disrupted throughout the winter period las year and it left us with one of the highest excess mortality scores in Europe (and highest since the WW2). There is no week without news (usually published by small, local news outlets) about some kind of misconduct in one of the hospitals.
Last week the government announced the vaccine mandates for 3 professional groups: medical workers, teachers and the law enforcement. Sadly, it was another case of announcing the legislation through a press conference, since the document actually mandating this decision doesn't even exist yet. But it's no problem for our media which were ecstatic about the development. The situation is very dynamic because some of the politicians from the ruling party are speaking out against this decision. I also heard many anecdotal stories about growing unrest among the police (where allegedly about 40% are unvaccinated). Already there are many offers of legal help so observing this situation play out would be very interesting.
An anonymous email report:
Currently in effect:
- Recovered/Vaxx/Tested (PCT in Slovene) checks for pretty much everything besides grocery shops, pharmacy and such. Perhaps noteworthy is that PCT rules have been in effect for a long time, but for months almost nobody would actually check them. They only really started enforcing about a month ago it when the government ramped up the inspections to harass businesses. This week they started being more relaxed again, generally businesses will only do the bare minimum to keep the government off their backs.
- Kids are masked and regularly tested in school, classes put in quarantine if anyone tests positive
- Bars open only till 22h
- Masks are mandated inside shops and such, though if you go without its rare anyone will say shit to you.
- The experts are fearmongering daily with exact same retarded talking points as you often highlight
- "Collapse of hospitals" rhetoric, then you hear in 1.5 years they did exactly fuck-all to increase capacity
- Currently people are mocking some retarded new rules about what can or can't be sold at outdoor Christmas markets
- Unlike some other EU countries, police aren't going around randomly checking PCT papers and such
- For the most part the police have been relatively chill/reasonable this whole time (stark contrast to australian thugs for example). The government reacted by firing/replacing some police commanders and demanded more severe action against protesters, word from some contacts in police is they are pretty pissed off about government dweebs interfering with their work/generally don't want to harass people over this bullshit
Some reasons why I'm cautiously optimistic about the future
- There were some significant protests in october that were dispersed pretty violently (whole center of Ljubljana smelling of tear gas), that made the government look really bad
- Publicized death of a 20 yr girl from the vaccine, which they were unable to ignore/brush off
- Government wanted to mandate recovered/vaxx only rule for public employees, luckily constitutional court struck it down
All of the above cost the government quite a lot of political capital, so I doubt they will try to enact any Austria style bullshit in the near future
- Most people are tired of this shit. Waiters are generally "Sorry, have to check" apologetic about the PCT, petty authoritarians are rare. People routinely mock and talk shit about the rules.
- A lot of younger people I know that got vaxxed did it "so I can live without being hassled". I'm expecting boosters won't go well with this demographic
- A fairly significant amount of people just support/oppose the policies based on party line, if it was different government they would flip
- Working class people, old grandmas, rural people in general are usually cool about it. Also I've noticed some hippie and old school class warfare lefty-type acquaintances being pretty vocal on FB against the bullshit, which certainly raised my opinion of them
- On the other side the Branch covidian believers are generally the usual suspects: Scared boomers, Karen moms, "I fucking love science" millenials. Those are minority, I'd put them at about 20%, and it will be very hard to get them to let it go
- Then there is quite a large demographic of otherwise reasonable/decent middle class people, who are also tired of the bullshit, but think we should "trust science, because who else will you trust". They realize something is wrong, but if pressed they try to shift blame solely on the government, and generally don't want to appear antisocial/conspiracy theorists etc... Those are people that can be reached with proper rhetoric. In my experience if you demonstrate you are a reasonable person (important to not sound like typical conspiracy crank), then mock the official line in a humourous way, you can often get them to agree or at least trigger some cognitive dissonance.
The situation here is not that good either, in general terms. The news and media propaganda goes on 24/7 and the ruling party introduced COVID passes for all public institutions (all of government jobs, basically). You can still test, although they have made it very inconvenient to do so, two times a week to access your job.
About 55% of people in the country have taken the first dose after these measures were introduced to pressure people. However, a month after this, my region has only about 43% of people with the first dose (many of those pressured recently). In my city, mask wearing is half-assed at best and is not very strictly upheld (a lot of people are wearing their mask below their nose etc.).
Our president is openly ridiculing COVID passes and the opposition parties are gathering signatures for a referendum to make any pandemic measure that restricts freedom of movement something that has to be voted on and reach a 2/3 majority in the Parliament. There was a big protest of tens of thousands of people in the capital city recently which the media tried to smear and discredit. Still, I can sense that many of the people who are double vaxxed are now hesitant to take the third dose. A lot more questioning is happening as the narrative is becoming more ridiculous (vaccines don't stop transmission, COVID passes are useless as there are a lot of hospital infection clusters spread by vaxxed).
A lot of people are still very radical and crazed by propaganda. Some live in fear and don't socialize. Next week, vaccine rollout for 5-11 year olds is starting, I'm curious to see how many wackos are going to rush to get their kids vaxxed.
Athonite reports on southern Cyprus:
We had one of the harshest lockdowns in Europe during early 2020. Business forced to close, curfews, and we were only allowed out once a day by sending an SMS to a government-run service.
We now have a ‘Safe Pass’ (many call it the ‘Slave Pass’) QR passport that must be shown in basically all shops, hospitality venues, government offices etc that can hold more than 10 people. The pass is acquired by getting vaccinated or having a rapid test within the previous 48 hours. We need it for work as government inspectors visit every few weeks to check. Rapid test cost is capped at 10 Euros and most pharmacies do it for 5 or even as low as 3 Euros, so we spend maybe 12-15 euros a week and total one hour getting tested. For the kids it is free for now. I guess it could be worse.
At my workplace the CEO is unofficially mandating the vax. He calls the unvaccinated up to his office every few weeks for one-on-ones where he applies friendly pressure. Most have caved, I think among 85 staff there are maybe 6 of us left. I resigned last week as I was very lucky to find another job where they do not much care (for now).
2 weeks ago, a new and simply evil mandate to mask all primary schoolchildren from age 6 and up and force them into the ‘Safe Pass’ system was introduced, and it fired up a lot of parents who were sleeping. The telegram and Viber groups exploded with rage. I attended an emergency PTA meeting at our children’s school just after the mandate was announced, and expected to be the only dissenter there, but there were other parents who were even more vocal than I was. Some even pulled their kids out of school.
A few days later someone set off a couple of bombs outside a Limassol primary school in dead of night, and another burned down a school outside the capital. Why someone would do such a thing is beyond me. Many think it was a false flag by the police in collusion with the underworld, who are basically the same people on this island. Of course, this turned public opinion more against the unvaccinated, who are already under constant pressure here. There is a general feeling that they will mandate vaccination. On 13th December they will begin vaccinating children between the ages of 5-11, an absolute insanity that I cannot comprehend in a country that is famous for love and kindness toward children.
There have been several protests. Back in July when the Safe Pass was introduced there was a massive protest outside the presidential palace, maybe the biggest in Cyprus history. After that they fizzled, to the point where we attended one in September with only 50 or so people. Since the attack on the children however mama bear has been angered. Last week a protest was held in Limassol, maybe 5,000 people. The seafront road was shut down and many families marched. It’s a small island, and I spotted several policemen I know from the capital among the protestors (undercover I guess). They did not acknowledge my greetings.
Cypriots are by nature hypochondriacs and use a lot of medications. Many are afraid that they will catch corona and die. They even believe that a stiff breeze will make them sick, something I never understood. My whole family had Covid earlier this year. My wife and kids got it mild and I had it the worst. Fever, aches and pains and a mild cough, but never did I once feel I was in any danger. I lost a lot of weight quite quickly. At night, I had fevered dreams like my brains were boiling. It felt alien, like a Chinese virus.
My wife and I are lucky to both see things the same way. We know many families torn apart by all this. She saw this coming before I did. We both felt that something was not right early on. I hoped it would all fade away, like 9/11 and the hysteria after that, but she is ex-communist bloc and much more pessimistic. We are really very lucky to have her. She guides us with her love and warmth and wisdom.
As Christians, our faith has been strengthened through all this. We feel whatever happens will be God’s will. There is an ancient church in a cave in the countryside near our home, and I go there often to sit and pray.
We will try to endure to the end, whatever end that might be.
- In theory, masks are required at all times, but outside, compliance is about 60%, and happily, about 10% among the lazy-looking police officers. Noone seems bothered by the non-maskers. Indoors, I can usually get away without the mask, especially in smaller places. It tends only to be demanded in up-scale malls and public transport.
- There's now a 'Green Pass' required for entry to all "non-essential" indoord venues such as restaurants, bars, gyms, etc, whereby these businesses are required to scan customers' QR codes to reveal their vaccination status. The Green Pass also covers those who have recovered or have a negative PCR test (within 72 hours) or antigen (within 48). However, it's only the up-scale places that in practice demand it, and most of those don't even scan the QR, merely look at it - meaning, ahem, those with a plausible-looking document can get away with it. Annoyingly, gyms seem to be the most zealous enforcers, invariably tring to scan to verify the pass, but luckily, the app is notoriously unreliable, especially for tourists/foreigners, so I simply present a, how shall I say, somewhat doctored PCR test pdf, and it works every time.
- This is for the centre of Tbilisi FYI. I imagine that the further one gets from the centre of the capital, the more lax life would become. An interesting element to note, and that should surprise noone here, is that all Georgian news reports and government statements that I've read that discuss "what is to be done" purely consider "international best practice"; that is to say, there is no stated comprehension that what should be done is the most appropriate course of action, merely a slavish copycat of what prestigious countries like Germany, France, and blue-state USA are doing. "Why are we not doing what the Germans are doing?! We can't be a serious, modern, European country if we're not doing what they're doing!" Just as most people do not have an individual moral compass, but merely consider morality to consist in doing what the group majority is doing, the same applies to countries. If prestigious Euro countries had mostly done a Sweden, Georgia would have done the same.
I regret that I can’t include everything. In addition to the above, see what Oholibamah has to say about Tbilisi, Georgia. Among other things, he notes a domestic eagerness to follow “international best pracatice,” which is merely “what prestigious countries like Germany, France, and blue-state USA are doing.” The small country effect strike again.
Note also Lost or Found’s extensive notes on Denmark, where it is relatively easy to opt-out of masking, and where a surprisingly high percentage of hospitalisations are in the fully vaccinated.