The SMS system that Cyprus was happy to be rid of in late spring last year will be returning on Sunday as the island grapples with the rampant spread of coronavirus that has left the healthcare system increasingly burdened.
As was the case during the island’s first total lockdown in March, the SMS system serves to limit the movement and gathering of the public to the greatest extent possible, as each person will be entitled to two outings per day and only for legitimate and vital reasons.
Specifically, before each outing, each person must send in a text message to 8998, declaring the reason for their outing, and wait for a positive response before leaving their house or shelter.
The text messages must follow a specific template set out by the government:
X [space] ID OR PASSPORT NUMBER [space] HOME POSTAL CODE
In the place of X individuals must insert the number (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8) which corresponds to the reason for their travel as seen in the list below:
- Visit to a pharmacy, or to give blood, or visit to a doctor, or to conduct a rapid coronavirus test, or to go to set appointment for vaccination
- Going to a store for the purchase of essential goods or services, or to pick up food by take-away or drive-through (until 8:30pm)
- Going to a bank, as an electronic transaction is not possible
- Absolutely necessary visit to a state service or local authority in the event that something cannot be taken care of online
- Going to help relatives who are in need of assistance or who are in isolation or who are too vulnerable to travel
- Going out for physical exercise in groups of up to two people excluding underage children in areas near residence or where access is permitted (parks, beaches). Residents of the mainland may travel to coastal towns for a swim in groups of no more than two, excluding underage children, but residents of coastal towns cannot travel to other districts
- Going to a place of religious worship for personal prayer or attending a ceremony (e.g. funeral, wedding, baptism) if guests are first or second degree relatives in groups of up to ten people
- Other reasons (in this case, in addition to the number, individuals must also clearly state the specific reason for travel):
- Separated parents picking up their children. In this case, parents must provide a court document proving that they have a responsibility to care for their children on the specific day/hour of travel
- Specialized treatments for people with disabilities or people with chronic diseases, along with their companion
- Transport of National Guardsman to and from the army camp.
- Going to and from Larnaca and Paphos Airports, given a ticket can be presented as proof
- Farmers and stockbreeders going to and from farm, provided they can present their hectare subsidy document from the Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organization or a relevant certificate from the Agriculture District Office
- Going to animal shelters for the care of animals, provided that a certificate certified by a recognized animal welfare organization, as well as a relevant proof of notification of each movement to the Veterinary Services, can be presented
People going out to take their pets for a walk (given that the walk remains within a 500m radius from their home), or those transferring children to and from kindergartens or day-care centres, or movements of the disabled or autistic persons and their helpers are not required to send in a text to 8998.
Those who will be travelling on a daily basis to and from their workplaces, will need to carry a specific form, which must be filled in by their employers or superiors. The same form can be filled in by self-employed persons who will also need to travel to and from their workplace.
For the any of the remaining permitted reasons for travel, the public may either send an SMS or fill in another special form where the reason for travel is clearly stated.
In each of the above cases, the public must carry proof of identification at all times, in addition to the filled in form or proof of having sent out a text message.