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COVID19: Two out of three lockdown fines unpaid

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Two out of three people fined for breaching COVID-19 rules during the lockdowns and restrictions have not been paid, with thousands of cases going to court.

According to police data, between 28 March 2020 and 31 May 2022, some 44,344 people were fined for breaching COVID-19 rules, but 60.5% or 26,828 have not paid their fine.

Most out-of-court settlements were issued for not wearing a protective face mask or not wearing it properly, followed by violation of lockdown rules or not sending an SMS requesting permission to leave their home.

A smaller number involved people who were found dancing at hospitality venues before a ban on dancing was lifted.

Cypriots found violating COVID-19 decrees were handed a €300 fine for the majority of violations, with the exemption of breaking the curfew, in which case they were taken to court.

In the first case involving a person breaking the curfew, the offender was slammed with a 45-day prison sentence in May 2020 but later reprieved by President Nicos Anastasiades.

Authorities are puzzled over how to handle the 27,000 unpaid fines, as they fear that sending such a large number of cases to court would only burden the overwhelmed justice system.

Furthermore, many violations involve foreign nationals who may no longer be living on the island or have moved without leaving a forwarding address.

As of 1 June, Cyprus ditched the last remaining coronavirus restrictions, including masks for indoor areas and tests required for unvaccinated arrivals.

Travellers are no longer required to show a valid vaccination certificate, a certificate of recovery from coronavirus, or a negative PCR or rapid antigen test.

The first COVID measures were introduced on 16 March 2020, just a week after Cyprus detected its first two cases, with the island going into lockdown as airports closed to the outside world.

A full-blown lockdown was imposed on 24 March, with Cypriots allowed out of their homes only once a day for shopping, exercise, or other necessities.

The island endured several lockdowns and a series of restrictions on movements and mask and vaccine mandates lasting for two years.