Four border crossings to the north were shut down early Saturday for a week. Meanwhile, queues at checkpoints that are still open saw increased traffic and delays due to health screenings, particularly at Ayios Dhometios/Metehan where one motorist said the queue was three-kilometres long.
Cybc reported that a number of protesters at the pedestrian Ledra Street checkpoint barged through police barricades and crossed to the north despite efforts by police to stop them. Around 200 people began protesting there around midday.
President Nicos Anastasides said on Saturday there had been “no other choice” but to close crossing points to try and pre-empt and potential spread of the coronavirus as the government faced a fierce backlash and protests over the move.
He said there were over 3,000 Iranian students in the north and Iran, he added, has been one of the most badly-affected countries for coronavirus but it was not just because of the number of Iranians.
“It is temporary decision to better control both incoming and the outgoing movement,” the president added.
The president repeated that it was a temporary measure and did not justify protests.
“The Government has an obligation to take measures to protect the health of the people,” he said.
The crossings at Ledra Street, Astromeritis, Lefka and Dherynia closed at 6am on Saturday for seven days, after it was decided at an extraordinary cabinet meeting to try and prevent any spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19.
The remainder of the checkpoints, Ayios Dhometios/Metehan, Ledra Palace and Kato Pyrgos remain open but were seeing increased traffic for which additional staff will be needed such as nurses and ambulance staff, to help with screenings of those crossing.
The British bases, which supervises the Strovilia crossing in the Dhekelia area, told the Cyprus Mail on Saturday, the checkpoint was operating as normal, and a spokesman said they are continuing to monitor the situation.