In a Facebook post on Tuesday President Nicos Anastasiades said he undergoes “a severe crisis of conscience” every time the Government is required to enforce stricter measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, but said that current circumstances necessitate that tougher measures are taken.
Responding to waves of reaction and criticism from the public regarding the stricter decrees announced by the Health Minister on Monday, Anastasiades said that he understands the reactions of a portion of the public but said that “the dilemma is not what I would like, but what circumstances impose that I should do, so that I feel that I did not fall short of my responsibilities at a time when difficult decisions needed to be made.”
“I would like you to understand that I undergo a severe crisis of conscience and am challenged each time the Government is required to take stricter restriction measures,” the President said.
He added that the main priority of the Government is the protection of public health.
Anastasiades gave assurances that he “will not tolerate any abuse of power which will violate without reason the family asylum of each citizen.”
He added that he would rather be judged for the decisions he has made rather than face the public’s pain and resentment for not daring to take the necessary steps to save loved ones.
“Just as we have overcome the [financial] crisis with the cooperation of all, we will now win this battle as well.”
Reaction built through Monday and Tuesday to the new stricter measures announced by the Government, which included a total lockdown between the hours of 9pm and 6am, when the public is forbidden from leaving their homes or shelters, as well as an increase in the fine for violations of the measures to €300 and the utilization of the neighbourhood watch to clamp down on the new ban on house gatherings of persons other than the permanent residents.
In statements on Tuesday, the Chief of Police, Kypros Michaelides, said that the neighbourhood watch would report to police any cases where they believe the measures are being violated in homes, after which police would initially ask the residents of the home for permission to enter and check the premises, as required by the Constitution, and if permission is denied then police will seek a court order to conduct the search.
Various reactions have emerged regarding the potential constitutional violations of the new measures, claiming that the Government has not declared a state of emergency which would allow it to overrule certain constitutional rights.
The same voices claim that the World Health Organization has stressed that quarantine measures must not be the only tool against the pandemic, but must complement other vital measures that must be taken by governments, such as staff training, the conducting of widespread coronavirus tests among the public, better infrastructure, and the drawing up of a clear plan for the quarantine of suspected cases.
Others, including political parties, have stressed that the new measures go above and beyond what is necessary, with the entire public being punished for the carelessness of some, rather than those few receiving stricter and more effective punishments.