Cyprus COVID-19 outcry as dogs, not children allowed out

Nicosia (AFP) –


Pet dogs have more freedom than children under strict social distancing restrictions Cyprus has enforced to stem the coronavirus pandemic, a public sector trade union said on Monday.

The Isotita (Equality) trade union made the complaint in a statement urging the commissioner of children's rights to ensure that during the pandemic "children at least acquire the same rights as pets".

Under tighter restrictions on free movement, Cypriots are allowed out of the house only once a day to go shop for essential things such as food or to exercise.

A text message has to be sent to the authorities to request approval for the journey and must include an ID and postal code, and only two people can be seen out on the streets together at any given time.

Such approval, however, is not required if going to the chemist, giving blood, transporting the armed forces or helping vulnerable groups but documentation is needed.

Nor is it necessary for walking the dog, which can be taken out as many times as necessary.

The union claims that children are treated as second class citizens and that parents must face the dilemma of choosing between venturing out for essential items or talking a child for a walk.

In such a case, it said in a statement, "children are denied the right to exercise and recreation (and this) indirectly affects their health".

"If a parent goes to the supermarket…the children are deprived of the right to walk," the union said.

It urged authorities not to make parents, especially single parents, choose between buying food and taking their children out to exercise, noting that many live in apartments.

Under the measures imposed by Cyprus to stop the coronavirus from spreading, all schools and public spaces such as parks and playgrounds have been closed.

Isotita also called on authorities to enable all parents to work from home, noting that some who do not have the necessary equipment have been going to their offices and taking their children along.

"In the public sector there are many problems with non-compliance to social distancing," the union added.

The Republic of Cyprus has recorded 446 cases of coronavirus and nine deaths so far.