COVID19: Fines kept virus in check

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The Auditor General’s office has found that the authorities’ policy to fine people violating COVID rules during the first 18 months of pandemic restrictions helped to keep the spread of the virus in check.

A survey carried out by the service concluded that the number of cases went down as authorities stepped up checks from March 2020 to October 2021.

The report recorded a correlation between police checks and keeping the pandemic in check. It noted that this was evident in Limassol, where the least checks were carried out, but recorded the highest number of cases.

On the contrary, in the district of Paphos, with the highest number of checks and fines proportional to its population, the lowest rate of infections was recorded.

“The effectiveness of police checks is reflected in the reduction of cases. Paphos, where the intensity of the inspections was the highest, throughout the period examined, has recorded the lowest rate of cases.

“Meanwhile, the district of Limassol, where the fewest inspections were carried out, in relation to its population, recorded the highest incidence rate”, the report said.

Comparing absolute numbers of inspections and fines issued in each district, the Auditor General’s office found that the largest number of checks were carried out in Nicosia, followed by Limassol. Limassol recorded the highest number of fines issued, with Famagusta district recording the least number of checks and fines issued.

€10 mln outstanding fines

Meanwhile, the Audit Service noted that fines worth over €10 mln handed out to people and businesses violating COVID regulations have yet to be collected, with authorities expected to send thousands of cases to court.

According to the report, from 20 March 2020 to 31 October 2021, some 42,208 out-of-court fines worth €13,657,851 had been issued for violations under the Infectious Disease Law, of which only 16,251 were paid, collecting €5,161,698.

The report added that 25,957 fines worth €8,496,154 remain outstanding.

That suggests that 39% of out-of-court fines have been paid, while 61% are still pending. However, according to the latest police data, by the end of May this year, of the 44,344 fines to date, just 17,466 had been paid,

Up until the end of October 2021, some 262 fines were issued for amounts of €1,500 to €16,000 each, with a total value of €1,027,500, of which, only 97 have been paid or €286,000.