Some 1,000 people participating in a demonstration against COVID-19 measures such as the wearing of masks will not be prosecuted for breaking social distancing rules.
Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou and Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis met on Monday to discuss what action, if any, should be taken against those who protested on Saturday against coronavirus restrictions.
Afterwards, Yiolitis said that authorities will not be taking any action against the coronavirus demonstrators, but future protests will be regulated.
“Demonstrators will have to wear masks and keep 1.5 metres away from one another, while the organiser of the event will need to inform the police where the event is to take place,” said Yiolitis.
“Our intention is to safeguard the right of citizens to assemble and demonstrate, but at the same time to ensure an equally important right to protect ourselves during the pandemic,” she added.
Hundreds of people opposing the mandatory use of face masks and other restrictive measures imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus took to the streets on Saturday following the example of other ‘COVID Hoax’ demonstrations in Europe.
The largest demonstration in Europe took place in Berlin, where police stopped a march minutes after it had started due to lack of respect for social distancing.
The Nicosia demo was outside the Presidential Palace with people chanting in favour of their ‘democratic right’ not to wear a mask and against “oppressive” restrictions.
Demonstrators also held banners supporting 5G and COVID-19 vaccines conspiracy theories.
In earlier comments, police spokesperson Christos Andreou argued that given the large number of people who attended the event, it was very difficult for officers, under the circumstances, to proceed with either arrests or issuing on the spot fines, because it “would cause bigger problems”.
He said the police had weighed all the possibilities which concern the public interest and security.
After a demonstration that took place in May, organised by human rights activists crying out against the poor conditions at Pournara migrant reception centre, police did issue fines for vio9lating social gathering rules.
“The restrictive measures which we have responsibly endured for months now are not designed to harm democracy, nor are they politically motivated or expedient,” said Yiolitis.
They apply universally to almost all countries affected by the pandemic, and are, we hope, temporary. The measures have only one purpose: to save lives,” she added.
The minister’s comments come after the authorities launched a criminal investigation against two teenagers who violated their quarantine to play football with their respective teams in Larnaca.