NewsLocalCoronavirus: Committee extends closure of checkpoints pending cabinet meeting

Coronavirus: Committee extends closure of checkpoints pending cabinet meeting

A ministerial committee set up to deal with a possible coronavirus outbreak decided on Monday to extend the temporary closure of four checkpoints until tomorrow when the Council of Ministers will meet to discuss the issue.

Cabinet was initially due to meet today but the meeting has been postponed.

No coronavirus cases have yet been reported on either side of the Green Line.

The government temporarily closed the checkpoints at Ledra Street, Dherynia, Astromeritis and Lefka ten days ago saying it needed to free personnel for additional screenings at the checkpoints that remain open.

It has rejected criticism of a hidden political agenda and said the issue was a public health matter.

However, the decision has sparked criticism and protests, with two demonstrations held at the Ledra Street checkpoint by groups demanding the checkpoints reopen.

The latest, on  Saturday, resulted in minor scuffles when Turkish Cypriot demonstrators tried to enter the buffer zone but were pushed back by Cypriot police who used pepper spray.

In a statement, Cyprus police said they made limited use of teargas to prevent demonstrators breaking a police cordon. Stones were also thrown at police, the statement said.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has also been very critical and has said he is raising the issue with the UN and the EU.

UNFICYP also weighed in last Friday voicing concern at the disruption the closure has caused only for the government speak of an  “unfortunate intervention” by the force.

There have also been two demonstrations at the Ledra Street checkpoint calling for the closure of all the checkpoints for good.

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