Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis on Monday stepped in after reports that highways were backed up for miles due to lockdown roadblocks, saying she instructed police to carry out only random checks during peak hours.
Motorists traveling to Nicosia from two districts affected by lockdowns, Limassol and Paphos, were caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic Monday morning, days after roadblocks were set up to block citizens from going in or coming out of the two districts without a legitimate purpose.
Yiolitis, who travels regularly from Limassol to her office in the capital, said she was aware of the traffic issues but also called on the public affected by local lockdowns to move about only if there was real need.
“I can appreciate that some people, in order for the country to function properly, have to move about and we ought to assist them,” Yiolitis said, adding that she instructed police to limit their checks to random selections during rush hour.
“I have given instructions to traffic police so that during peak hours they carry out only random checks, because there are teachers who go to schools in Nicosia, civil servants, but also people who need to take care of urgent matters,” Yiolitis said.
Strict measures are currently in place in all districts through the end of the month, while additional measures in Limassol and Paphos include a ban on movement of persons to and from the two districts except for those working in essential services, traveling for a medical incident, or air and sea passengers in transit.
I have instructed police to carry out only random checks, because there are teachers who go to schools in Nicosia, civil servants, but also people who need to take care of urgent matters
Local media said traffic police director Yiannakis Georgiou was dispatched to bottleneck areas to monitor the situation and take measures to alleviate traffic, including randomized checks.
Officials have called on car drivers to display any documents they may have on the inside of their windshield, in order to assist officers in carrying out their duties as quickly as possible.
The minster also took to Twitter to call on her “fellow citizens to use the exception categories sparingly and always have any documented proof at the ready.”
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou issued an executive order on Friday, imposing controls on motorists affected by district lockdowns in Limassol and Paphos in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus in Cyprus.
The decree, which had been planned for last Thursday night, was delayed one day after authorities determined that motorists would need time to secure documents from work in order to prove a legitimate purpose of travel.
A PCR showing a person tested negative for the coronavirus will be mandatory starting Wednesday, but it was not immediately clear whether health certificate checks would also be carried out randomly during rush hour.