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Police ‘performed well’ in enforcing Covid protocols, 3.2m checks, 42,482 fines issued

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During the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, police carried out 3.2 million checks on the public and issued 42,482 fines, raking in almost €6 million for state coffers from the 16,474 fines that were paid, MPs heard on Thursday.

Overall, the police performed very well in enforcing Covid-related protocols, the auditor-general said in parliament.

Lawmakers were discussing a special report issued by the audit office concerning the police checks carried out from the start of the pandemic in Cyprus in March 2020 through to September 2021.

MPs also heard from deputy police chief Christoforos Mavrommatis, who cited latest data as of October 25 this year. Up until that date, police issued 42,482 fines, of which 16,474 (worth €5.94 million) have been paid.

“I believe that the police acted effectively, we gave our utmost so that society and state might achieve its goal, the protection of public health,” Mavrommatis said.

Of the unpaid fines, the police are preparing 2,492 criminal files. In addition, 1,388 fines were voided either by a decision of the police leadership or the attorney-general.

“Our role involved a great deal of risk, because we as police officers were also exposed [to the virus] and we had a number of infections, which impacted our ability to implement the decrees,” the deputy chief said.

A total of 417 coronavirus cases were recorded among the police force.

Officers also had to deal with the adverse reactions while enforcing the rules as “naturally people reacted.”

Having gone through the records kept by the police, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides described the force’s performance in enforcing Covid-related rules as “very positive.”

According to Michaelides, the impact of enforcement on the spread of the coronavirus was most visible in Limassol – where the least number of police checks were carried out, per capita, while the coastal city recorded the highest number of Covid cases.

By contrast, Paphos – where the most police checks took place – showed the least number of infections.

In the period in question, the police had to ensure compliance with restrictions such as the curfew, a ban on gatherings, mandatory work-from-home, and the suspension of operation of several businesses.

Speaking to the media after the session of the House audit committee, committee chair Zacharias Koulias likewise praised the police for how it executed its duties in relation to enforcing Covid rules.

“It was an unprecedented event, the state rightly or wrongly issued some decrees, which the police had to enforce under circumstance never before experienced.”

Although  a number of mishaps did occur in the way complaints about Covid violations were filed, he added, “this was natural since the police had to deal with thousands of complaints.”

The first two cases of the coronavirus in Cyprus were confirmed on March 9, 2020 – a 25-year-old man from Limassol who had returned from Italy, and a 64-year-old heart surgeon from Nicosia who had returned from a medical convention in England and had been treating patients while infected.

The first lockdown enforced lasted from March 24 to April 13.

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