COVID19: Cyprus police create virus task force

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Cyprus Police have set up a special unit for people to report violations of COVID-19 decrees and health regulations to stem the rising tide of disobedience.

In a joint statement, Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis and Chief of Police Stelios Papatheodorou said authorities “aim for full implementation of the decrees tackling the pandemic by enhancing police communication with citizens”.

The decision was taken during a meeting between Yiolitis and Papatheodorou on Monday evening over concerns the public is no longer following the rules on mask-wearing and social distancing.

As of Wednesday, people wanting to anonymously report a violation of COVID rules by individuals or businesses can call the 1460 hotline set up by the unit or on 22606803 and 22606804.

“Stopping the virus from spreading further would need us to pull together and act responsibly, in order to return to a normal life, which we all desire,” the statement said.

It is understood that the decision was prompted by an increase in people flouting the infectious diseases law.

A Justice Ministry official said the unit will be made up of 200 police officers, with a presence in every district.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said he often evaluates data regarding COVID-19 decree violations with the Chief of Police and the Justice Minister.

“Undoubtedly, there is always room for increased surveillance by all relevant services and not just the police. Of course, we must always keep in mind that the force’s human resources are not unlimited. ”

“We do not wish to cultivate the fear of punishment among citizens. We are not a police state with an officer assigned to every citizen so that each of us is forced to comply with the measures.

“We all need to be responsible and aware that our behaviour has an impact on public health, on our parents, on our grandparents and on ourselves”.