Weeks after people in the Republic of Cyprus were told to wear a face mask in public, with some exceptions, officials from different agencies still have a hard time seeing eye to eye regarding the new rules.
According to local media, there was still some debate on whether people walking alone outside were required to wear a face mask at all times, with police and health officials weighing in to clarify their positions on the issue.
Both agree that an individual walking alone would not need to mask up, but they give different examples as to what counts as 'walking alone'
While citizens are required to wear a face mask in closed public spaces at all times, following an executive order to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the use of a mask outdoors is required for people in close proximity with fellow citizens but not mandatory in situations involving sports or physical activity including when someone is walking a dog.
But there was still debate over whether individuals walking alone in public without a pet would have to wear a mask around the neighbourhood.
According to Philenews, police spokesperson Christos Andreou says people walking alone without a pet are still required to mask up, saying “nowhere in the decree does it clarify whether persons are alone or not.”
Stop and Chat situations
Health ministry officer Herodotos Herodotou disagrees, saying someone walking alone may in fact remove the mask from his or her face and wear it again only in a “stop and chat” situation in case they meet another person.
Both officials seem to agree that an individual walking alone would not need to mask up, but they give different examples as to what counts as “walking alone.”
Andreou says the need to mask up depends on the location, such as people walking in the woods or on a farm would not need to comply with the rule if they are alone.
“But if you are walking out in public where there is a reasonable expectation you may come across another person walking by, then you must be wearing a mask,” Andreou said.
Herodotou says the spirit of the law does not call on people to wear masks if they are walking alone, as long as they are prepared to place a mask over their face when they approach another person and they can take it down when they are alone again.
Some exceptions to the mask wearing rule include persons with disabilities and people who have special needs or a serious stress disorder, while law enforcement authorities have said police officers have been told to use their discretion before issuing a fine for mask violations.
Experts have pointed out that keeping a distance of about six feet from each other is the most effective way in public to combat the spread of COIVD-19. Wearing a face mask is an additional measure of reciprocity that protects fellow citizens from each other.