The head of the Bar Association, Doros Ioannides, on Thursday called for amending procedures to allow filing cases on Sundays and public holidays after the debate which has arisen over the inability of police to seek a court order last weekend after a pub in Protaras was repeatedly caught violating social distancing regulations.
Ioannides told the Cyprus News Agency that that law on courts provides that district and criminal courts remain closed on Sundays and public holidays. It is only allowed to file cases in court during such days in extraordinary cases concerning domestic violence and psychiatric patients, he said.
He noted that the Supreme Court should amend the procedural rules to allow for criminal cases involving violations of decrees issued by the health minister and for issuing orders for the temporary suspension of the operations of establishments.
The amendment of the procedural regulation is carried out by decision of the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court, he said.
Famagusta district court closed Nava, the bar in question, for a week on Tuesday after videos emerged over the weekend showing the bar was packed with people partying in defiance of coronavirus measures.
The government on Thursday continued to defend the way police handled the case after some accused authorities of covering up for the business in question and for waiting to act on Tuesday and not during the weekend. Monday was a public holiday.
Government spokesman Kyriacos Kousios told state broadcaster CyBC that if this were true, the case would have been filed in court.
The law, he said, does not provide police with the opportunity to act faster.
Police Chief Kypros Michaelides, said the force was fully satisfied with the way the case was handled.
He reiterated that taking into account the situation at the time, it was deemed it wouldn’t be ideal to start issuing fines to everyone present, pointing out that things could get out of hand in a crowd of a thousand people when no one could predict how they would react.
Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides said he had suggested amending the procedural regulations to allow for cases to be submitted on those days.
Following the incident, guidelines for the operation of bars and restaurants have been tightened by the health ministry – setting a new maximum of 75 persons indoors and 150 outdoors.
The rule which stipulated three square metres per person indoors and two square metres per person outdoors remains unchanged as well as a maximum of 10 persons per table, but the number of total people a venue can cater for has been reduced.
The health ministry gave the example that if a venue has 400 square metres outside and under the 2 square metre regulation could have catered for 200 persons, it will now legally be allowed to host a maximum of 150.