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COVID19: Army and drones to bolster police checks

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Cyprus police warn they will be unrelenting to ensure stay at home laws are abided by while recruiting the National Guard and drones to keep people in check during the coronavirus outbreak.

Due to the spike in new COVID-19 cases, police are increasing checks on citizens travelling in vehicles or on foot across the island.

Talking to the Financial Mirror, police spokesman Christos Andreou said the force is increasing patrols in neighbourhoods and checks at central arteries with officers stationed on specific roads and junctures.

“Any given day we would have some 110 patrol cars on the streets, this number has now increased to 140, with the majority of them tasked with enforcing the stay at home decrees,” said Andreou.

He stressed that police are also on the lookout for any criminals who may think that now would be a good time to loot shops as they are closed, and their owners stuck at home.

He said the police force has deployed members of the fire brigade, civil defence, game wardens and the National Guard to help increase surveillance.

All have personal protective equipment for their own safety and the public’s protection.

“Members of other services will not be carrying out tasks such as booking offenders but will rather provide assistance to the officers.

As a patrol would need to be composed by two to four officers, now members of these services will also be in the patrol cars assisting officers in their duties,” said Andreou.

He said members of the armed forces and the fire brigade are also in contact with patrols, broadening the force’s coverage.

“They will be acting as the eyes of the force at areas which we cannot cover. If they notice anyone breaking the law, they will inform officers who will investigate the incident.”

Andreou said that the police will also employ drones, recently acquired by the force to identify areas with increased traffic.

He called on people to abide by the decrees for their own safety, and that of their beloved ones.

“Overall, there is compliance but there are still individuals who fail to listen. Police are obliged to book and fine them whereas in some cases, some will stand trial because of more serious offences or the way they break the decree.”

150 fined in 12 hours

A total of 153 drivers and pedestrians were cautioned by the police for violating social distancing rules to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

Police told CNA that officers performed 4,161 checks from 1800 Wednesday until 0600 on Thursday.

They also carried out 1,111 checks at premises but no violations were detected.

In Nicosia, 2,111 drivers and pedestrians were checked and 50 people were fined, in Limassol, there were 606 checks with 16 cautions, Larnaca had 409 checks and 28 cautions, Paphos 120 checks with 18 fines, Famagusta 411 checks and 26 cautioned.

The extrajudicial penalty that may be imposed on persons in violation of decrees of the Minister of Health was raised to €300 from €150.