Health Minister Dr. Ali Pilli responded to a question raised at the Assembly over New Year’s celebrations allegedly held at some casinos, which clearly flouted the Health Committee’s ruling out mass gatherings of any description and the night-time curfew which came into force on New Year’s Eve and ended on January 4.
On social media, locals and foreign residents condemned the hotels which had held New Year’s Eve celebrations. Two hotels in Kyrenia, Lord’s Palace and Les Ambassadeurs, were among those named and shamed by the North Cyprus public for allegedly hosting parties to see in the New Year.
Videos of their parties were posted on social media over the weekend, which show guests and staff failing to wear masks or observe social distancing rules, as they drank and danced together. Guests can also be seen playing at gaming machines in the background.
The Cyprus Turkish Medical Association (KTTB) Board of Directors issued a written statement and criticized the New Year celebrations at the hotels as follows:
“As KTTB, in order to protect public health, we have been actively taking an active role in taking measures against Covid-19 which is increasingly spreading throughout society, the sensitivity of our people to the contact rules, and the implementation of the measures taken from the very beginning of the outbreak.
“On New Year’s Eve, we have watched with sadness and astonishment the violation of the decisions taken by the Contagious Diseases Executive Committee through various communication sources.
“Knowing that there is no exception to the administration and the cautionary decisions taken regarding public health, although it was announced that the New Year celebrations were prohibited in all indoor and outdoor venues in the country, the images we watch unfortunately reveal that this was not applied without exception.
“We thank businesses that comply with the rules for their sensitivity and care for public health, and remind us that we, as a society, will have to pay for the reckless actions of the businesses that think that they are not subject to the rules (keeping the casinos open and organising Christmas entertainment against the decisions, etc.).
“We invite all relevant authorities to fulfill their legal obligations (inspection and punishment when necessary).
“We remind the public that the cautionary decisions taken during the New Year holidays are to protect our own health, and we repeat that failure to comply with the measures is the biggest crime that can be committed against public health”.
In response to the issue which was raised at the Assembly, health minister Ali Pilli apparently washed his hands of launching legal prosecution by asking “Is this the problem of the Minister of Health? TRNC citizens are already prohibited from entering casinos”, he said.
Pilli’s only response in parliament was to say that TRNC citizens should not be allowed into the casinos anyway, and that this is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. He did say that inspections of casinos will be increased.