Officials and health experts but also citizens were furious over the holiday weekend after carnival lovers in Limassol defied pandemic restrictions and gathered downtown for public celebration, with police onsite choosing not to confront the situation.
A large crowd in Limassol gathered on Sunday at a public square outside the town’s old port, near the marina, where people seen on video appeared to violate multiple pandemic rules, such as not wearing medical masks or maintaining social distances.
Police officers had blocked the parade from going to a different location, after realizing people were exchanging text messages to find a place to party
People took to social media to join officials in condemning Sunday evening’s revels. Reports said about 1500 carnival enthusiasts flocked to downtown to socialize and dance in the street, carrying on a local tradition where people mark the end of the celebratory carnival season one day before Green Monday, the start of religious fasting.
Earlier on Sunday, hundreds of people in cars paraded through the streets of the southern town, with city officials reportedly allowing the events but calling on motorists to remain in their vehicles. A similar excursion had been organized by the city a week earlier, with the exact routes for Sunday remaining a secret and police out and about to discourage people from gathering in large numbers.
But videos on social media showed hundreds of people later in the evening dancing in the street and having fun, without any visible social distancing measures being implemented and police near the old port choosing not to interfere.
Reports said there were dozens of officers in the area who did not intervene out of fear of being confronted by larger crowds, where children were also in attendance. At least 40 people and two businesses were fined over emergency health law violations, with police saying one of the business establishments was ordered to be shut down after the owner failed to comply with instructions issued by officers.
Previous reports said police officers had blocked the parade from going to a different location, after realizing people were exchanging text messages to find a place to party.
Another video on social media was also under investigation, after concerned citizens forwarded a website link to police. The video showed crowds of people dancing and celebrating at a club but no faces or location were immediately known.
Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis said police were called upon to protect sacrifices made by the majority of citizens, “but we need the cooperation of the public” and “the aim here is not for police to chase after citizens or citizens trying to come up with just about any method to trick law enforcement officers.”
Health experts said the violation could have devastating results expected to be seen next week, while Limassol Mayor Nicos Nicolaides said he was disappointed, adding that “the behavior did not reflect the vast majority of local residents.”