The SMS service 8998 was once again up and running on Thursday morning, with replies sent back almost instantaneously in both Greek and English.
Following a day of adjustment, after a decree was issued on movement restrictions in the Republic of Cyprus, the SMS service for granting permissions for necessary outings was re-established on Wednesday evening.
It is now possible for members of the public to send a text request to 8998 and wait for a response before going outside their residence for legitimate reasons, such as buying food or walking their pets (scroll down for full list).
Officials said it will be up to the discretion of law enforcement officials to determine if someone has a valid reason to be outside within a reasonable timeframe
Earlier this week, the government pulled back the application after critics said it did not offer the service in English and officials said they were looking into possible limitations per day, per user. There were no such limits yet, according to an official who went on state radio Thursday morning.
A typical permission was granted for three hours, while a typical response after the latest updated service grants permission "valid for a reasonable amount of time."
Officials said it will be up to the discretion of law enforcement officials to determine if someone has a valid reason to be outside within a reasonable timeframe. Document proof of identity is required of any person walking or driving out in public areas or using public transportation.
How to use the toll free number
Users can text their request by sending a string of numbers to 8998 free of charge in the following format: category (1-8), space, ID number, space, zip code (four-digit postal code).
For example, someone with ID# 123456 living in zip code 1234 and wants to walk his or her dog in the neighbourhood, which is category 6, should text 6 123456 1234 to the number 8998. An automated reply would be sent back almost immediately.
ID numbers can include both letters and numbers but cannot exceed ten characters or include any special characters.
Categories of legitimate outings
- Going to the pharmacy, visit a doctor, or give blood
- Going to a supermarket to buy essential products, goods and services (groceries, food)
- Going to the bank when electronic transactions are not possible
- Absolutely necessary visits to a state or local agency
- Going out to help others who are in need of assistance or isolation, including those under quarantine
- Going out for physical exercise or walking a pet, in groups of up to two humans as long as the outing takes place in areas adjacent to the neighbourhood
- Attending a ceremony or service (funeral, wedding, baptism/christening) if guests are first or second degree relatives in groups of up to ten individuals
- Any other reason for going outside that can be justified under the measures as described in the latest decree on movement restrictions