Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades addressed the nation on Tuesday, two days after hundreds of carnival enthusiasts violated protocols in Limassol, with the commander in chief warning of tougher measures if people did not shape up.
“I am really sad that I have to weigh in on the unacceptable incidents that took place in Limassol, which complicate unfortunately our efforts to respond to the pandemic,” Anastasiades said.
The President, who hails from the southern town, told the nation in a televised address Tuesday night that he had no intention to single out his fellow Limassolians.
“But let facts speak for themselves,” Anastasiades said, adding that close to three quarters of hospitalized patients were residents of Limassol, while 90% of COVID deaths since March 1 were recorded amongst people who were living in Limassol.
I call on all my fellow citizens to recognize that I won’t allow the entire country to suffer just because of the reckless behavior of a miserable few
The President said he was not only concerned about irresponsible behavior but also deeply troubled, citing much that has been accomplished so far in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
“So let me say this one last time before epidemiological data force us to take new tougher and possibly localized measures. I call on all my fellow citizens to recognize that I won’t allow the entire country to suffer just because of the reckless behavior of a miserable few,” Anastasiades said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the President had been criticized in the media for not addressing Sunday’s violations in Limassol.
Law enforcement officials were also criticized for not taking action to prevent the gathering, after an estimated 1500 people participated in a parade through the town with hundreds flocking to the old port’s public square.
Police spokesperson Christos Andreou told state radio that tens of patrol cars in the area were busy blocking routes to a different suspected party location, saying they did not have intelligence about the old port until after it was too late.
Asked whether police hesitated to confront the crowd due to other reasons, including organizers being backed by the town’s criminal bosses, Andreou reiterated that if they had intelligence on the matter sooner they would have blocked access to the port.
The President also called on the public to have faith in the state’s ability to respond to the public health crisis, saying Cyprus was an example of successful management of the pandemic.