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Coronavirus: Ten churchgoers among those fined for ignoring lockdown (Updated)

Police fined ten people €300 each after they were found attending a church service on Thursday evening in Avdellero in the Larnaca district.

Following a tip off, officers went to the church where they found nine people and a priest at the illegal gathering.

The liturgy was held the same day President Nicos Anastasiades urged the public to stay focused on the task ahead of containing the spread of the coronavirus, despite the understandable urge to go to church.

“This is why I am once again appealing to all: strictly adhere to the protection measures, avoid non-essential movements, and don’t succumb to the temptation to visit your villages or country houses,” the president said.

Drawing an analogy between Christ’s tribulations and the difficulties people are currently facing, he struck a note of hope: “Never forget that the Resurrection always follows Golgotha.”

Keeping people safe and alive is the top priority, he added.

“Pay no heed to those dissenters who conflate faith in God with choosing death. Instead, listen to the wise voice of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Prelate of the Church of Cyprus: today, it is not faith that is at risk, but the faithful,” he added.

On April 9, after a meeting with the president, Archbishop Chrysostomos gave reassurance that the Church would make sure all measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus would be followed to the letter during the Easter holidays.

“It isn’t faith which is in danger but the faithful. I would say that today it’s not the way of life which is danger but our life itself,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said.

Not all have complied with the measures since. On Sunday April 12 Morphou Bishop Neophytos violated the quarantine law when he held mass in a church in Peristerona with the participation of members of the public.

Police officers booked three people, one being the church’s priest. Reports said seven others left the church after the officers showed up.

After the service, the bishop accused the officers of being disrespectful even though they were legitimised “by the laws of the presidential and ministerial decree”.

Another cleric defying the measures is Bishop of Trimithounta, Varnavas who is being investigated by police after he called on his congregation to attend church services despite being cautioned to refrain from such actions.

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