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In Indonesia's Java, Punishment for Not Wearing Masks is Digging Graves for Covid-19 Victims

A worker prepares new graves at the  burial area provided by the government for victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Indonesia.
(Representative image: Reuters)

A worker prepares new graves at the burial area provided by the government for victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Indonesia. (Representative image: Reuters)

Authorities instructed people in Gresik regency, East Java to dig graves for those who have succumbed to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus as punishment for refusing to wear face masks.

Local authorities in Indonesia's East Java have devised an unconventional strategy to penalise people who refused to wear face masks and asked them to dig graves at a public cemetery in Ngabetan village. According to a report in The Jakarta Post, local administration instructed eight people in Gresik regency, East Java to dig graves for those who have succumbed to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus as punishment for refusing to wear face masks in public spaces.

"There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them," Suyono, Cerme district head, was quoted as saying. He added that two persons were designated a grave where one was given the responsibility of digging and the other was asked to lay wooden boards inside the hole to support the corpse.

"Hopefully this can create a deterrent effect against violations," Suyono said. He further expressed concerns over the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Cerme, and added that this had resulted in authorities tightening Covid-related protocols in the village.

In accordance with the Regent Law No. 22/2020, people who flout the protocols are subject to fines or community service as punishment, the report added.

Meanwhile, Indonesia on Sunday recorded its sixth consecutive day of over 3,000 new cases of novel coronavirus infection, as the capital city of Southeast Asia's most populous country geared up to re-impose social distancing curbs. New infections on Sunday reached 3,636 with new deaths at 73, showed data from the health ministry's website. That took the total number of cases to 218,382 and fatalities to 8,723, news agency Reuters reported.

To check the spread of the virus in Jakarta, workers of businesses considered non-essential would be needed to work from home from Monday. However, a few government employees will be permitted to work from offices. Markets and shopping centres will be allowed to stay open with admittance at half capacity, and eateries located inside the premises of shopping centres will be allowed to function for take-out only, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan told a news briefing on Sunday.

first published:September 15, 2020, 09:33 IST