Limassol appears to have taken on the role of the island’s speakeasy, reminiscent of the US’ prohibition era, as it has been singled out for the island’s slow exit from the protracted lockdown.
The seemingly almost daily reports of illegal clubs, a series of illegal birthday gatherings along with restaurants and cafes operating illegally has drawn the ire and condemnation of the authorities – with many left wondering: Why Limassol?
The official police line is that there are more checks taking place in Limassol which inevitably leads to more violations being recorded.
“There’s almost double the checks happening in Limassol so of course quite a few violations are being noticed,” said a police source who spoke to the Cyprus Mail on Thursday.
To be sure, about a third of the Republic’s 14,571 checks on Wednesday were in Limassol, or 5,066 to be precise.
But many others have wondered whether Limassol’s reputation for “being more open” culturally is also playing a role, in what some say is at best a lax adherence to the rules and at worse an outright disregard for the health protocols.
“From the old days people from other districts have viewed the Limassolians as being more open, well it’s possible that this has also played a role… but it’s true, there are many factors,” the police source said.
The source also offered that Limassol has had stricter measures than other districts and fatigue amongst the residents may also be playing a role.
The district first emerged as a major concern for the government’s coronavirus advisory team back in October, which led to an announcement on November 11 that Limassol and Paphos were to be sealed off.
Another police source from Limassol who spoke to the Cyprus Mail reiterated that an increase in police patrols and more checks compared to other districts is the main factor.
But when asked as to why Paphos has returned to a greater sense of normality compared to Limassol, the source said: “Well yes, definitely Limassol is violating the law and it appears that Limassolians are more optimistic, they don’t let situations put them down.”
“They’re meeting up and gathering so we’re seeing a higher rate of transmission compared to other cities.”
The source was quick to add that there are now 300 officers and other related individuals in Limassol alone tasked with enforcing the health ministry’s decrees.
Limassol has consistently recorded the highest number of daily cases and a significantly higher positivity rate compared to other districts.
Another factor, which the authorities are finding difficult to speak about due to its sensitive nature, is that many of the health protocol violations being recorded are amongst the population of foreign nationals in Limassol.
Whatever the case, it appears that the focus is set to remain on the vibrant coastal city for a while yet – as the “sleepy civil servant centre of Nicosia” and the more sparsely populated districts such as Paphos have not, so far, reached the ranks of Limassol at the current stage of the pandemic.