The Cabinet on Friday approved a bill seeking to see penalties for violations of coronavirus measures skyrocket, as part of government efforts to increase deterrents to disregarding decrees and regulations under the Quarantine Law as the island gradually returns to normality.
Before coming into effect, the bills will need a green light from Parliament.
The bills foresee the increase of the penalty for violations of coronavirus decrees to up to one year imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding €50,000, a steep rise from the previous penalty of up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding €3,000.
Additionally, the amendments do not alter the amount of the out-of-court fine for violations, set at €300, but incorporate the ability for law enforcement officials to impose an increased fine to business owners or managers, or to those responsible for any other premise where economic activities take place.
According to the bill, officers can impose fines of €2,000 for first-time violators, and €4,000 for strike two, while if a business is found violating coronavirus decrees for a third time, they will be faced with a fine of €8,000. In the event that a fourth violation is discovered, prosecution becomes an option.
If the business owner in question is prosecuted after the fourth violation, or even before that if deemed necessary, the prosecution can request that the court orders a temporary suspension order, closing down the businesses or economic activity for a period of time.
The amendments were pursued by the Justice Ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, to deter an over-relaxation of the public as the island traverses the second phase of the lifting of restrictions, and in view of protecting public health.