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Coronavirus: People without masks forced to dig graves for victims in Indonesia

Clea Skopeliti
·2 mins read
The health protocol violators were not involved in the actual burials (AFP via Getty Images)
The health protocol violators were not involved in the actual burials (AFP via Getty Images)

Eight Indonesians who refused to wear masks have been made to dig graves for coronavirus victims in a rural province in the country.

Three men and five minors were sentenced to grave-digging duties in in Cerme district of Gresik Regency, East Java on 9 September, officials told Tribun News.

Mask wearing is mandatory in public spaces throughout Indonesia, but the government has given local officials the power to decide on punishments for breaches.

The country has seen some resistance to coronavirus restrictions, with a portion of the population refusing to social distance and wear face coverings to stop the spread of the virus.

In Cerme, authorities give those caught flouting mask-wearing laws the option of paying a fine of 150,000 rupiah (£7.80) or accepting community service, the district’s leader, Suyono said. Most people have opted for the latter, the leader told CNN.

While this has largely seen people engage in cleaning duties, or public exercise such as push-ups, Suyono said he hopes assisting with grave digging will show show "firsthand the real and serious effect of Covid-19".

It comes as the district deals with a shortage of grave diggers.

“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them,” Suyono told Tribun News.

The leader explained that those being punished did not participate in the burial process.

“Hopefully this can create a deterrent effect against violations,” Suyono said. He added that coronavirus cases are continuing to rise in the district, leading officials to impose stricter measures against the spread of the virus.

Authorities in the capital of Jakarta have followed a similar initiative of social punishment for flouting mask restrictions. Earlier this month, a man was made to lie in a mock coffin in public after breaching the health protocol.

Coronavirus restrictions were re-imposed on the city on Sunday, where emergency units in all 20 hospitals approved to treat Covid-19 patients are full.

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